Investment company NPM Capital has acquired a minority share in KUBO, developer of high-tech greenhouses for horticulture. "A year and a half ago we realized that we could use some help to further develop our leadership in state-of-the-art greenhouse concepts. We carefully looked for a partner that really suits us. In NPM Capital we found it," says Wouter Kuiper, CEO with KUBO. Both parties agreed not to disclose the financial terms of the transaction that still is subject to customary regulatory approvals.
Private Equity firm NPM Capital is a subsidiary of Dutch family business SHV, a privately owned Dutch trading company, regarded as one of the world's largest private trading groups. NPM is a known player in the horticultural industry as they in 2019 supplied growth capital to Agro Care as well, the biggest greenhouse tomato grower of the Netherlands.
KUBO has been active in the greenhouse industry for over 75 years. The company serves growers of fruits, vegetables, plants and flowers with high-tech greenhouses, including software support and services including training, data analysis, management and operational support. The company, with approximately 150 employees, has branches in Monster (the Netherlands) and Shanghai (China). Recently they announced their expansion into Canada and the opening of their first Canadian office. The company has a turnover of roughly €200 million and projects realized in 45 countries, including Canada, United States, Russia, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and Oman.
"In terms of turnover, we will remain at the top and we will be able to present ourselves further on a global scale. With our current branches in Canada and China, we are building a platform under the name KUBO. That platform will also be further expanded," says Wouter Kuiper, KUBO's CEO and the third generation in the family business.
He adds that it's important for the company to sell a minority stake. "After all, we are a family business with also a social function. We are very happy with this and look forward to the future positively."
For the customers, everything will remain the same. "I see no reason why that should change. It remains business as usual."
Wouter says the further international expansion of his greenhouse company offers enormous opportunities. "We can see that the scale at which our clients operate is getting larger and larger, and the greenhouses are not only getting bigger, but also increasingly technologically complex. In addition, a growing number of investors that are entering the market lack horticultural expertise themselves and look for turn-key solutions. With NPM Capital, we'll have an investor on board with a long-term investment horizon, a very clear vision on our sector, and with the means and know-how to help shape our international expansion. Together, we can further professionalize our organization, open new branches and attract the best talent. NPM can also provide support for future acquisitions. We are ready to take this leap together. In the end, it is our ambition to strengthen our leading position in the global market," Wouter said.
Rapidly growing demand
The decision to join forces with a long-term investor also makes sense, given that the international market for greenhouse cultivation will continue to grow rapidly the coming decades, Wouter said. "That growth will likely be around 10% per year. On every continent, there is a rapidly growing demand for high-quality and locally produced products that are grown safely and efficiently under ideal climatological conditions, using limited energy, water and pesticides. We can do all those things at once in our high-tech greenhouses."
Rutger Ruigrok, Managing Director of NPM Capital, is very excited about NPM's opportunity to invest in KUBO. "We are already deeply involved in the food and agricultural supply chain, and as part of our investment focus 'Feeding the World', we have also been following developments in the greenhouse industry for years. KUBO is without a doubt one of the leading players in terms of technology and innovation. Given the company's strong position as a value chain orchestrator and its deep ties with the Dutch horticulture ecosystem, KUBO is the ideal platform for the further development of high-tech greenhouses. We are also impressed by the entrepreneurial spirit and qualities of Wouter and his team. By now, we have also learned that there is a good cultural fit between KUBO and NPM. For that reason, we are looking forward to a long-term collaboration to support the jewel of the Dutch knowledge-intensive manufacturing industry in realising their ambitions."
NPM was advized by PWC (M&A, financial, tax), Nauta Dutilh (legal), Strategy& (commercial), MJ Hudson (ESG) and Hillenraad Partners (industry advisor). KUBO was advized by Yeald (M&A and strategic advisor) and JB Law (legal).