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Securing a successful exit for Hahnemann’s Køkken

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Trine Hahnemann is a celebrated Danish cookbook author and restaurateur with regular appearances in BBC, Observer Food and numerous other publications worldwide. In addition to her writing, she has built a successful “chef-led” and sustainability focused corporate catering business in Copenhagen, operating in-house staff restaurants for a number of clients as well as a large retail, café and cooking school venue in one of Copenhagen’s up-and-coming neighbourhoods.

We were approached for a discussion of Trine’s strategic options with the business – spanning from international expansion to an exit. After talks with Trine and her business partner/husband we concluded that the best way forward would be to carve out the corporate catering business and sell it, while holding on the retail/café business – leaving Trine more time to focus on her writing and teaching.

Part of the rationale also came from an analysis of the competitive dynamics within the Scandinavian corporate catering sector where international giants like ISS, Compass, Sodexo etc fight with local “gastronomy led” medium sized players who were increasingly also bought by international groups – leading to increased margin pressure among other effects.

In phase one we worked closely with the management team, their lawyers and accountants on carving out the entity to be sold from the rest of the company – establishing “normalised” P&Ls for the catering business, sorting out the IP rights and contractual arrangements – thus creating a dedicated and transparent unit that would be easy for an acquirer to understand, assess and absorb.

Next, we established the potential value of this company to potential buyers, including an assessment of the “value levers” the acquisition would bring: for some international players it offered an entry opportunity to the Scandinavian market, for others it would offer a new and credible gastronomic concept to their portfolio – and for some it would primarily add bottom-line EBIT growth.

We built a prioritised shortlist of potential candidates, supporting the process and adding value to the negotiation of terms and problem solved to get around obstacles that emerged along the way.

The process ended with a successful sale of the business to a local Danish player who not only added an attractive client portfolio to their business but also, this way, kept the runner-up from gaining entry to the high-end corporate restaurant segment.


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