The Edinburgh coffee roaster and tea blender Brodies became the main trade distributor of Segafredo Zanetti, the Italian coffee brand, at the start of August.
The brand has been distributed in the UK for the past ten years by Metropolitan, of London, and now comes under the company most famous for its Scottish Breakfast, Famous Edinburgh, and Scottish Teatime teas, packed in their distinctive silver and tartan tins (it is believed that one of the original founders of the company was the inventor of the ‘breakfast tea' concept.) Brodies also roasts the Dynamic Volcanic range of espresso coffees.
Metropolitan will, however, continue to distribute Segafredo Zanetti coffee for the near future, and will probably also continue to distribute the La San Marco espresso machines, which are also under the ownership of Zanetti.
The move may not be considered a surprise, and might possibly have been foreseen last year. In January 2007, Massimo Zanetti, having made the unexpected acquisition of Brodies, wrote that: "This acquisition allows our group to further strengthen its presence in the UK by directly entering the distribution sector".
The managing director of Metropolitan, Angus McKenzie, told Coffee House magazine yesterday that his company had recently given notice that it would cease to distribute Segafredo in favour of promoting its own brands, which it has noticeably been building up over recent months.
"We advised Segafredo that our sole-supply agreement didn't allow for some things we wanted to do, such as exploring other coffees, and we exercised our right of six months' notice to terminate. Segafredo in turn exercised, rather liberally, their option to review ahead of the six months!
"We still have a healthy stock of Segafredo which will run out some time between now and the end of the year. However, we have already been successful in a tough market, and we have found that prudent clients are already preparing for what might be hard times, and have been very interested in what we have to offer."
The managing director of Brodies, Ralph Lutton, told Coffee House magazine that taking on distribution of Segafredo Zanetti would broaden the opportunities for his company, without affecting his right to market his own coffees.
"We have inherited something very exciting, Segafredo will give us a good extra string to our bow, because although many clients do like dealing with an independent company such as ourselves, others do like to be offered a big international brand.
"Segafredo is a good quality brand by any measure. I'm not sure if it's the biggest espresso brand by sales in Europe, but it is certainly one of the most significant - it has a real presence everywhere in Europe, it is the biggest foodservice brand in Italty, it is huge in Germany and France, and absolutely gigantic across Austria. Here, there is good representation in some places, but it is known to the British consumer mainly because they've seen the name across Europe.
"For Brodies, this is growth, because we are adding a different product to our own coffee range. There is only one Seagfredo product which is similar to what we produce at the moment."
Segafredo Zanetti also owns 600 coffee shops around the world, including the Puccino's chain in the UK.
At Metropolitan, Angus McKenzie has said that the beverage trade can expect two imminent positive announcements.
"At the moment we do have sole-importer status for the La San Marco machines. Brodies will be at liberty to import it, when from January we will become a 'main authorised agent'. Our relationship with the manufacturer will continue to be strong, and I see no reason not to continue with them. We are constantly being approached by espresso-machine brands who want to work with us, so we could certainly replace La San Marco, but we prefer to continue to work with them.
"I welcome Brodies taking the machine on - it will broaden the awareness of the brand, for everybody's benefit."
By Ian Boughton