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InVivo: the birth of an agri-food industry giant


Following the integration of Soufflet, Europe’s leading private grain buyer, the InVivo union of agricultural cooperatives continues to grow and now has 174 member cooperatives with a combined turnover of €12.4 billion. The experts at AURIS Finance, a consultancy specialising in mergers and acquisitions, take a look at this unique model.

The Union des Coopératives Agroalimentaires (Union of Agri-Food Cooperatives) was set up after the Second World War with the aim of promoting products throughout the chain, “from the field to the plate”. From 1945, the cooperative brought together all the sector’s players to ensure control of the entire value chain, from agricultural production to distribution and transport. It was on this model that the union of co-ops created the Gamm Vert banners in 1977.

A unique model

In 2001, the group took on a new dimension under the name InVivo, an entity that brought together two national union of cooperative collectors and suppliers, SIGMA and UNCAA. In 2007, the group became the majority shareholder of Evialis, a producer of animal feeds, a supplier of premixes and services, and of health and hygiene products. A period of intense development followed. In 2014, InVivo reached its first turning point by stepping up its investments in three areas: agriculture, animal nutrition and health, retail and agri-food. Thierry Blandinières, the group’s CEO, now intends to turn InVivo into a major international group, while giving it the agility of a growing SME. In an interview with Entreprendre magazine, he outlines his three-year strategic plan entitled “Growing together”. His ambition is to streamline the structure to make it clearer, with a particular focus on InVivo’s core businesses.

Inorganic growth and targeted disposals

This refocusing was supported by a targeted divestment and acquisition strategy. In 2018, InVivo acquired the Jardiland chain in order to carve out a leading position in the garden centre, garden and pet supplies market. This acquisition enabled InVivo to form a large group with the Delbard and Gamm vert garden centres already in its portfolio. In 2021, the group acquired Soufflet, Europe’s leading private grain buyer. This acquisition gave InVivo the critical mass to become one of Europe’s leading agricultural groups. Sales rose to €12.4 billion and the group now operates in 35 countries at 90 sites, 63 of which are in France. Conversely, InVivo has no qualms about spinning off activities that are deemed too distant from its core business. At the end of 2022, for example, InVivo sold Vivien Paille, its brand specialising in dried vegetables, cereals and rice, which it had acquired from the Soufflet group. The brand was acquired by Avril, InVivo’s long-term partner. This transfer of activities has enabled Avril Pôle Végétal to strengthen its positions in the fast-moving consumer goods and food ingredients sectors.

Our experts at your side

Through its strategy of acquisitions and divestitures, InVivo aims to position itself as the undisputed leader in the agri-food sector. The creation of this giant, following the successful integration of Soufflet and the refocusing on its core activities, illustrates the dynamics of today’s agri-food market, where large companies are seeking to optimise their value chain. The coming months will see further shake-ups in the market. AURIS Finance’s experts are specialised by sector. They will support you in your search for financing and assist you in your acquisitions and divestments.

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