(Adds quotes, details)
VERONA, Italy, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Italy’s largest coffee group Lavazza does not plan to go public for the time being and is still busy integrating the four companies bought in the last three years, its vice president said.
“Before thinking to new acquisitions we have to consolidate what we have done last year,” Marco Lavazza said.
Lavazza’s acquisition spree has sharply increased its scale in recent years, so that revenue in 2016 was up 30 percent to 1.9 billion euros ($2.4 billion) on the year before, reflecting the purchase of French coffee brand Carte Noire and Denmark’s Merrild.
Last year the family-owned group bought Canadian organic coffee firm Kicking Horse and Italy’s coffee pod firm Nims.
Despite recent growth the company remains well behind sector leaders Nestle, JAB Holdings and Starbucks and in recent months there was speculation the Italian group could turn to the stock market to help accelerate its expansion.
“It is certainly an advantage for us not to be listed and remain independent ... at this stage the market is absolutely not our priority,” the vice-president said, though not ruling out the option completely.
He added that the group was solid and had enough liquidity to stand on its own two feet.
Lavazza added that the group expected sales to rise this year but conceded it would be hard for it to gain more ground in Italy, where the company has a market share of almost 50 percent. Just over 60 percent of group sales are abroad. ($1 = 0.8008 euros) (Reporting by Riccardo Bastianello; Writing by Francesca Landini; Editing by David Holmes)