The Wittamer family, the name behind the legendary Belgian patisserie brand, has sold out to a trio of French-Belgian investors for an undisclosed sum, De Tijd reports.
The family business was established in 1910 in what is still the flagship store on the Sablon in Brussels. Until now it was in the hands of third-generation brother and sister Paul and Myriam, who took over from their father in 2007.
Myriam stepped out of the daily management of the business as soon as possible, but she has now been replaced by her daughter Lesley, who shares the daily duties with her uncle.
That will continue to be the case after the takeover, according to the new investors.
They are Jean-Claude Marian, a naturalised Belgium born in France who runs a chain of rest homes, property developer Carlos De Meester and French investment fund manager Christophe Hureaux.
Hureaux becomes managing director, but daily business will still be in the hands of Wittamer uncle and niece.
The new investors have plans, however, to grow the Wittamer brand. The Sablon shop is still the main outlet, although the brand is available in luxury supermarkets Rob in Woluwe and Grande Epicerie in Uccle, as well as the shop attached to restaurant Villa Lorraine.
Wittamer also has 24 franchise shops in Japan.
The growth plans mean that the business is now looking for premises for a new workshop where the production of cakes and chocolates will be able to grow.
“We are looking for a building of 1,000 to 1,500 square metres in or around Brussels,” Hureaux told the paper.
Wittamer was awarded a Royal warrant in 2000 for deliveries to the Royal household (along with Chocolatier Mary, a favourite of the late Queen Fabiola). The company has a turnover of around €4 million, and employs some 50 people.
Some past employees went on to make names for themselves, among them Pierre Marcolini (whose shop on the Sablon has a perfect view of his mentor’s, and Marc Debailleul, whose shop and tea-room are on the Grand Place.
The Brussels Times