Alken brothers unhappy at Paul Sapin sale

Febvre & Company sold its 99.79% shareholding in French bottling subsidiary Paul Sapin to Les Grands Chais de France, the second-largest producer and the number one exporter of French Wines around the world, for an undisclosed price but the deal is far from over as far as original owners the Alken Brothers are concerned.

Febvre acquired the majority shareholding in Paul Sapin SA in 1999 and oversaw its growth and development in sourcing, developing, bottling and marketing of wines from around the world.

Febvre’s present portfolio includes Paulita, Les Chaises, Babington Brook as well as De Martino, Distell SA, Champagne Taittinger, Delas Freres, Maison Louis Latour, Francois Lurton and others from around Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Africa and Americans both north and south.  The sale of its shareholding in Paul Sapin SA will allow Febvre to concentrate on its core activities on the island of Ireland.

Febvre & Co has an overall turnover of around €50 million a year and declared an operating profit of €1.15 million in 2014, turning around 2013’s losses of €1.30 million.

Its 2014 turnover here in Ireland fell slightly to €22.64 million from 2013’s €24.55 million but Febvre’s ‘Rest of World’ turnover increased by nearly 6% to €26.29 million in 2014 from the previous year’s €24.85 million.

Emile and Brenda Alken established the company as a wine supplier in 1963 and sons Anthony and Gregory took over the business from their parents but ran up personal debts of €21 million to Ulster Bank.

Padmore Limited, an Isle of Man investment company, took over the running of the company from Gregory and Anthony in 2014 when it became the majority shareholder, appointing former C&C Chief Executive Jim Bradley to head operations at the Sandyford-based company.

However the Alken brothers recently expressed “surprise and profound disappointment” at the sale of the Macon-based French subsidiary. ,

Legal proceedings relating to the debts as well as ownership of Febvre and the conduct of the current Febvre Board of Directors have been underway in both Ireland and France for the past two years. The cases are expected to be heard in September or October this year.


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