The famous Leroux chicory house changes hands. The more than 100-year-old company (1858) based in Orchies, between Lille and Valenciennes, was bought by Ghislain Lesaffre, a member of the famous family industrial du Nord (owner of the world’s number one yeast company). This investment is strictly personal, specifies the buyer.
Ghislain Lesaffre had sold a few months ago the majority of his shares in another regional company, Chocmod, a specialist in chocolate truffles – which he ran in partnership with a partner. The company was sold at the end of 2021 to the Cerea fund in an operation valuing Chocmod at around 50 million euros according to “Capital Finance”.
Organic and local
In this new adventure, Ghislain Lesaffre takes the presidency of Leroux, while his predecessor Olivier Hermand becomes managing director. The company is the world leader in pure chicory, with a turnover of 30 million euros for a workforce of 120 people. After a difficult period in 2018-2019, the company northerner has regained momentum.
Since 2018, it has been developing an organic activity, which has been reinforced in recent years. months with the launch of a range of organic chicory grains grown and roasted in France. The opportunity to rejuvenate its clientele and meet the expectations of urban audiences for organic and healthy products, digestive virtues of chicory being known since antiquity. Some young gourmet chefs have also taken it into their heads to use it other than as a coffee substitute, to enhance meat or tiramisu.
The acquisition of the company, finalized on June 21, is accompanied by a change in status. The chicory producer was until now under associative status, which hampered its operation. For start, Ghislain Lesaffre announces an investment plan of 10 million euros. According to him, it is first a question of decarbonizing the two units in Vieille Eglise (Pas-de-Calais) and Orchies, as the roasting of chicory chips consumes a lot of energy. But there are also production investments to renovate and improve the historic site.
The stated objective of the new leader is to give a boost to the company, in particular by seeking new markets or new segments – to get out of the field of the only hot drink for breakfast. The idea is to install it at other times of the day, but also to diversify into the world of ingredients for animal nutrition, reveals the entrepreneur, who is also aiming for the international market. “We are already present in Africa, but there is also great potential in South America. North that I know well for having lived there for ten years”, notes Ghislain Lesaffre.