IVORY COAST – French beverage company, Castel Group, has divested its water bottling business in Ivory Coast to one of the largest private groups in the country, SDTM/Carré d’Or Group.

The water business under the brands Awa and Cristaline in Ivory Coast was operated by Castel’s subsidiary Solibra as part of its move to refocus on its core business.

Awa and Cristaline have been produced and distributed by Solibra since the early 2000s and have established themselves as leading brands in the Ivorian market.

The company said the decision is in line with Castel’s ambition to make its activities independent from plastic packaging and to support glass production.

Ivorian news sites report that the transaction was for 11 billion CFA francs, citing that the sale is partly linked to the war in Ukraine, in particular, because of the inflation it causes worldwide and the consequences of soaring prices on consumers’ purchasing power.

Beer in the country is reportedly not selling much due to the high cost of living, forcing many consumers to abscond from the beverage.

In the first half of the current year, Solibra recorded a drop in sales of around 9% compared to the previous year, thus dropping to a turnover of 123.14 billion CFA francs at the end of June 2021 to 120.88 billion CFA francs at the same period in 2022.

From April last year, Coca-Cola replaced Solibra with the Carré d’Or group to bottle its drinks, including Coca-Cola, Fanta, Sprite, and Schweppes.

Following this agreement with Carré d’Or, a new “ultramodern ” factory costing more than FCFA 65.5 billion (€100 million) is being built at the Industrial Zone PK 24 and should generate 1,000 direct and indirect jobs.

At the start of the year, Castel strengthened its diversification strategy by developing green and local production with the acquisition of 100% of the share capital of the Alver glass factory, a subsidiary of the Condor group based in Oran.

According to the French group, this investment responds to its desire to promote the independence of its activities concerning imports of inputs and packaging and to reduce the share of PET (Polyethylene terephthalate, a plastic oil-based) while helping to develop returnable and recyclable glass.

Castel said it will start to invest in modernizing the industrial facility and developing the skills of its workforce to support its long-term growth, once authorities approved the transaction in charge of the competition. The two transactions showcase Castel’s renewed confidence in the prospects of the African continent.

Created in 1988, the Carré d’Or group is a major player in the agri-business industry in Ivory Coast, active in logistics and manufacturing.

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