x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 September 2017

Exclusive: Berry Company may seek IPO listing within five years, CEO says

Firm has benefited from Brexit, with weaker pound boosting exports

A variety of juice drinks manufactured by The Berry Company are popular in the UAE  James O'Hara / The National
A variety of juice drinks manufactured by The Berry Company are popular in the UAE James O'Hara / The National

British juice drinks firm The Berry Company could seek a public listing in five years, its chief executive said.

“We would want to exhaust our internal resources and let them take us as far as they can. Once convinced we cannot grow the company any further, IPOing would be strongly considered”, the company's founder and CEO Khaled El-Yafi told The National. Mr El-Yafi said the company's immediate priority is expanding the company's product range, but says an IPO could be a “potential” option in five years.

The British-Lebanese entrepreneur places the company’s value at around £25 million (Dh122m). The Berry Company, founded in 2007, specialises in juices and teas made from berries which have health benefits, such as the goji berry and the acaí berry.

Boosted by the trends of ‘clean eating’ and ‘superfoods’, ten years on, the company's drinks are sold in more than 40 countries including the United Arab Emirates.

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Berry Company's founder vision bears fruit

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The company has witnessed a 10 per cent growth in revenues each year for the last three years, with turnover hitting $7.5 million in 2016. In Iceland, a surprise success story for the company, about 65,000 bottles of goji are sold to the population of a little more than 300,000.

Dubai is a particularly strong market for The Berry Company, with Mr El-Yafi commenting, “We have a very even spread in the Middle East [but] Dubai and the Emirates have been the best market of the lot”.

In response to being asked what would need to happen for Mr El-Yafi to consider listing, he said: “I haven’t strongly considered it, so wouldn’t want to definitively comment. One thing we do know is we have spread to 50 countries approximately with minimal if no marketing spend at all. Therein lies the potential.”

Speaking from his Kensington, London office, Mr El-Yafi also revealed that his company has benefited from the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.

“The pound has weakened so exports are attractive. Everyone is making that much more money,” he said.

Mr El-Yafi has been able to increase the price with some foreign distributors, arguing that they are doing so much better against the pound.

Domestically, the 38-year-old businessman believes consumers are not yet feeling the pinch and are willing to buy quality drinks for a higher price.

“We’re selling in pounds to consumers who live here and I don’t see a drop in the [recommended retail price] of products already on the shelf. On the contrary, I keep seeing the ceiling being shattered all the time. If it had gone the other way I might have seen a slimming down of product offering”.

Mr El-Yafi is wary that consumers may begin to tighten their purse strings in the future but is not going to let that dampen his spirits while his business is booming.

“At the moment the rhetoric that is coming from buyers is one of if a product is of quality then it costs what it costs," he said.

"That’s great. That gives me a lot of reassurance”.