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Unilever's Pukka deal to boost presence in herbal tea market


Pukka tea packaging

Pukka tea packaging

Pukka tea packaging

Unilever is upping its bet on the rise of consumer demand for herbal teas by acquiring Bristol-based Pukka Herbs for an undisclosed sum.

It gives the consumer giant a stronger foothold in the global herbal, fruit and green tea market - estimated to be worth around €1.6bn (£1.46bn).

Unilever, which did not disclose the terms of the deal, championed the brand in its announcement, claiming that it had just snapped up the "fastest growing organic tea company".

Pukka, which was founded in 2001, reported a turnover of over £30m in its last financial year, with annual turnover rising around 30% in each of the last three years.

President of Unilever's refreshment category Kevin Havelock said: "The acquisition strengthens our tea business, addressing a gap in our portfolio.

"Pukka is a premium player in the natural, organic, health and wellness segment which is fast-growing and scalable. We look forward to bringing Pukka to even more consumers."

The company said Pukka will be managed separately from Unilever, with co-founders Tim Westall and Sebastian Pole remaining at the helm.

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Pukka management also assured the tea firm would maintain its ethical roots.

Mr Pole said: "Pukka will remain true to its values - 100% organic, a B Company, a champion for fair trading through pioneering schemes like Fair For Life, and we will continue to donate 1% of sales to global environmental charities annually."

The acquisition expands Unilever's tea portfolio, which already includes the likes of PG Tips and Lyons.

Unilever shares were slightly higher following the acquisition announcement, rising 0.5% or 23.5p at 4,520.5p.

Earlier this summer the company reported a 27% rise in pre-tax profits for the first half of 2017 to €4.6bn (£4.2bn) up from $3.6bn (£3.3bn) the year before.

Unilever, which also owns Marmite and Pot Noodle, said underlying sales rose 3% over the period.