Dutch trader buys into Armit
Published:  19 September, 2008

Baarsma takes first acquisition step in UK with 75% stake in fine wine house

Dutch wine trading house Baarsma has bought a 75% stake in

London fine wine merchant Armit .

It is the first move by Baarsma into the UK market and the company said it intended to make other acquisitions in the future.

Cees de Rade, Baarsma's chief operating officer, said: "We regard it as our first step into the UK."

The current Armit management will remain with the company. Chief executive Ian Ronald, chairman and founder John Armit, and four other senior managers all retain stakes.

"The team is very professional and motivated and the company offers many synergy possibilities within the Baarsma group," said

De Rade. "Armit also enhances our position in the higher wine segment."

Baarsma has a declared policy of international expansion by acquisition in north west Europe.

It bought the Cellarmaster Wines Europe mail order business last year and the Canei Italian wine brand from Pernod Ricard.

It has wine trading operations in France, Switzerland and South Africa, and is the Dutch distributor for Constellation brands.

Armit was founded by John Armit in 1988 and has earned a glowing reputation for taking a modern approach to traditional fine wine trading.

Armit boss Ian Ronald said the deal would allow Armit to fund its own acquisitions in the fine wine arena.

He said: "Our strategy for a long time has been to take advantage of the consol idation opportunities that exist within the UK fine wine market, which is very fragmented at the top end.

"We knew

we needed capital if we were to make acquisitions but in the current climate the existing shareholders weren't enthusiastic about paying out large amounts to facilitate it."

Armit claims to be one of the UK's biggest importers of first growth Bordeaux and is the exclusive agent for leading Pomerol house Château Lafleur.

Its Italian agencies include Sassicaia and Angelo Gaja.

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