Jules Destrooper taken over by cigar company


GT&CO has taken over one of Flanders’ most beloved brands – the Jules Destrooper biscuit company – while Rodania watches return to Flemish ownership

Rodania back in local hands

The West Flanders bakery company Jules Destrooper, famous for its butter waffles, has been taken over by GT&CO, the holding company of the Vandermarliere family best known as a cigar manufacturer.

Vandermarliere was previously owner of Gryson, one of the last independent tobacco companies in Flanders, before selling to Japan Tobacco Company in 2012. The family still owns the J Cortès cigar company. Since the Gryson sale, which raised a reported €475 million, “the family has patiently and professionally waited for new market opportunities”, GT&CO said in a statement.

Jules Destrooper first brought his waffles to market in 1890 and has since grown into one of the country’s most recognisable brands with sales in 75 countries. The company has facilities in Lo-Reninge and Ypres, employing 160 people, and last year had sales of €36 million.

“We are entrepreneurs,” said Guido Vandermarliere. “Money sitting in the bank is of no interest to us. Belgium is a village, but we have the world at our feet. We’re buying Destrooper not to hold on to what it is, but for its expansion potential.”

The value of the takeover has not been revealed.

In related news, another West Flanders entrepreneur, Philip Cracco, has taken over Montebi, the parent company of watchmaker Rodania, a brand that now returns into Flemish hands. The brand was sold eight years ago to investment fund BV Capital Partners.

Cracco is the investor behind temporary employment agency Accent, and his plans for Rodania include doubling sales (€15 million in 2014) over the next six years. “The company may well have potential, but it needs to be managed better,” he said. Here, too, the takeover price was not revealed.

Photo courtesy Visit Flanders