Bolton Group B.V.

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Bolton Group B.V.

Stadhouderskade 14H
Telephone: (31 020) 616 89 89
Fax: (31 020) 616 37 97
Web site:

Private Company
Incorporated: 1949
Employees: 5,000
Sales: EUR 2.5 billion ($3 billion) (2006 est.)
NAIC: 311421 Fruit and Vegetable Canning; 311711

Seafood Canning; 322291 Sanitary Paper Product Manufacturing; 325611 Soap and Other Detergent Manufacturing; 325620 Toilet Preparation Manufacturing

Bolton Group B.V. is a holding company specializing in the European Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sector. Bolton core products categories include Food, Home Care & Detergents, Personal & Skin Care, Glues & Adhesives, Tissue Products, and Cosmetics. Boltons Food division also represents its historic core business, and includes canned meats under the Manzotin brand, and especially canned seafood under the Rio Mare, Saupiquet, Prima, and other brands. The company holds leading positions in the canned seafood markets in Italy, France, Greece, and Spain, as well as a significant position elsewhere in Europe. The Home Care & Detergents division includes Italian brand leaders such as Omino Bianco, WC Net, and Smac, as well as a number of other leading national brands, such as Carolin (France), WC Eend and Crofty (Netherlands), and Overlay (Greece), among others.

Boltons control of UHU GmbH, in Germany, positions it as a European leader in the all-purpose glue segment, while the company also controls other top European glues and adhesives brands including Bison, Griffon, Colmat, and Karlsons Klister. Softex is the companys main Tissue Products brand, while the companys Cosmetics division is represented by the Collistar brand. Lastly, the companys Personal & Skin Care division features such noted brands as Neutro Roberts, Borotalco, Chilly, Brioschi, Botot, and Rogé Cavaillès. Although Bolton traces its origins to the Manzotin and Rio Mare brands in Italy, the companys corporate operations are based in the Netherlands and Switzerland. The company remains a private company; in 2006, Boltons revenues were estimated to top EUR 2.5 billion ($3 billion).


Bolton Group traces its origins back to a small regional distribution company in Italy, founded in 1949. Bolton itself, however, appears to have originated in the Netherlands in the postwar era. Boltons first investments in Italy occurred in the early 1960s when the company acquired Manzotin, a combination of Manzo (the Italian word for beef), and tin. Manzotin itself had been founded in Cermenate, Como, in northern Italy in 1951 as a producer of canned beef products and soon developed into a well-known Italian brand. By the early 1960s, Manzotin had reached a national level, and had launched an expanded range of canned, beef-based specialty products. The company incorporated as a limited company in 1960, before becoming the base of the future Bolton Group.

Seeking new markets, Manzotin decided to extend its canning expertise into a new category, that of canned seafood. The company invested in new production lines, and in 1964 introduced its first canned tuna products under the Rio Mare brand name. Supported by an extensive advertising campaign, using the slogan So Tender It Can Be Cut with a Breadstick, Rio Mare quickly gained a 10 percent share of the Italian canned seafood markets. Before long, Rio Mare emerged as the single largest canned seafood producer in that market.

The successful launch of the Rio Mare brand led to the Italian companys adoption of a new name, Trinity Alimentari. By then, the group had expanded into Greece, forming the basis of the future Bolton Hellas subsidiary. The company core product in that market became its Overlay home care line; over the next decades, however, Bolton introduced many of its growing list of brands into that market. Greece was to remain an important market for the Bolton Group into the next century.

Another important Bolton holding was Brill Manitoba, later renamed as Bolton Manitoba. That business, which specialized in the home care and detergents market, included brands such Omino Blanco detergent, created in 1954. Another major Brill Manitoba brand was WC Net, launched in 1967. Brill Manitoba itself was founded in 1969, and went on to launch a number of products, such as WC Net Descaler in 1972, a line of perfumed rim blocks (toilet bowl cleaners) in 1978, and WC Net Blue Water, in 1992.

In the meantime, the entry into the home care market led the company to an interest in the personal care market as well. Boltons first operations in this area date to 1968, and took off especially after 1982. In that year, Bolton acquired a stake in leading Italian personal care products group Manetti & Roberts. That company dated its history to 1843, when Henry Roberts, a British chemist, founded the pharmaceutical business H. Roberts & Co., and began producing pharmaceutical and body care products for Florences British community. That company later added shops in Rome and Naples, opened offices in London and Paris, and built a small factory outside of Florence. At the dawn of the twentieth century, H. Roberts later merged with one of its chief rivals in Florence, owned by Lorenz Manetti, forming Manetti & Roberts. In 1904, Manetti & Roberts debuted its own talcum powder brand, Borotalco, which went onto become the largest selling talcum powder in Italy. During the 20th century, the company also built up another strong brand, the Neutro Roberts skin and personal care line. While Bolton gained a majority of Manetti & Roberts, the remainder was held by consumer products giant Beecham.

Bolton continued to build up its range of businesses, with a focus on the fast-moving consumer goods market. Among the companys holdings was Linostar, the second largest selling diaper brand in Italy, which also supplemented the companys international holdings with several factories in Latin America. Bolton also built up a significant share of Beechams Italian operations. Then in 1989, Bolton expanded its range of products into a new sector through the acquisition of Germanys UHU. A leading producer of glues and adhesives in Germany, UHU had been founded in 1884 as a small chemicals producer in Bühl. In 1905 August Fischer, a pharmacist, acquired the company, and expanded the companys range of products to include paints, adhesives, inks and stamp pads. In 1924, Fischer discovered a new universal adhesive capable of sticking to nearly all materials, including the newly developed Bakelite plastic. The product was named UHU, after a bird native to the Black Forest. UHU went on to become the best-selling universal adhesive, both at home and elsewhere in Europe. Taken over by Beecham in 1971, UHU regained its independence in a management buyout, backed by Bolton, in 1989. Bolton took full control of UHU in 1994.


Over the years the Bolton Group has successfully developed a wide range of high quality products. Responding rapidly to consumer needs and anticipating future demands, we are able to maintain strong market positions and secure consumer loyalty. This philosophy embraces all the markets in which the Group operates: from the food business, where we continuously offer innovative products, to the adhesives and home care markets, where we launch several new product concepts every year. Thanks to our distinctive messages, advertising is a key driver of Bolton brands success and greatly contributes to the loyalty of our consumers.

By then, Bolton had begun restructuring its holdings. In addition to taking full control of UHU, Bolton acquired 100 percent control of Manetti & Roberts in 1993. This was accomplished by a share swap agreement with the recently formed SmithKline Beecham, in which Bolton turned over its holding in Beecham Italia in exchange for SmithKline Beechams shares of Manetti & Roberts. The company had also moved into France, buying Solitaire, a maker of home care products, including the floor cleaner brand Carolin, present in both the French and Belgian markets.


Bolton also continued to seek out new product areas into the 1990s. The company entered the cosmetics market through its acquisition of Collistar in 1992. That company, formed in 1970 as part of pharmaceuticals group Zambeletti Spa, had built a leadership position in the Italian cosmetics, and skin care and personal care sectors. Collistar had long played the role of innovator in Italy; the company was the first to launch individually encapsulated anticellulite and antiaging products in 1983. Other products included aromatherapy-based skin care products, tanning enhancers, and body care creams.

The mid-1990s saw Bolton step up its efforts to consolidate its position as a leading European fast-moving consumer products group. The company entered Spain in 1996, acquiring CILE, a consumer products distributor based in Madrid. CILE had been founded in 1948, and had launched its own branded line of goods, Prima, in 1978, producing ketchup, vinegar, and related goods.

Also in 1996, Bolton expanded its adhesives division through the acquisition of Bison International. That company, based in the Netherlands, had gained the leading share of the adhesives and sealants markets in the Benelux countries, while also building strong export sales to more than 50 countries.

Boltons attention turned to France toward the end of the decade. The company first boosted its cosmetics and skin care line, acquiring Rogé Cavaillés in 1998. Rogé Cavaillés, founded in 1855, was a leading French brand producing bar and liquid soaps, creams, and other products for sensitive skin, as well as the Eau de Botot branded line of products.

Bolton returned to France the following year, buying Saupiquet, based in Nantes, the leading French producer of canned tuna and other seafood. Founded in 1877, Saupiquet was a major seafood company in the Brittany and Vendee regions by the dawn of the 20th century. In the second half of that century, Saupiquet led a consolidation of the regional industry, taking over nearly all of the canneries in the Nantes area. Saupiquet had also expanded into vegetable canning, but sold those operations to Bonduelle in 1990. The acquisition of Saupiquet not only established Bolton as one of the leading canned seafood producers in Europe, it also gave the company access to the German canned seafood market through subsidiary Saupiquet Deutschland.

Also in 1999, Bolton strengthened its operations in Greece, through the purchase of a stake in Athens Papermill. That acquisition gave the group a leading position in the Greek tissue paper market, with control of the Softex brand. Bolton acquired full control of Athens Papermill in 2002. By then, the company had established itself as a leading player in the Spanish home care and detergent market, having established a new subsidiary, Brill Manitoba España in 1999.


A regional distribution company is founded in Italy.
Canned beef producer Manzotin is established.
Manzotin, by then controlled by Bolton, launches production of Rio Mare canned tuna and changes name to Trinity Alimentari.
Founding of Brill Manitoba home care products and detergents operations.
Bolton acquires personal care products group Manetti & Roberts in Italy.
Company acquires a stake in the UHU adhesives group in Germany.
Bolton enters cosmetics with acquisition of Collistar brand in Italy.
Company becomes the leading European producer of canned seafood through acquisition of Saupiquet in France.
A head office is established in Switzerland for development of international brands.
Company acquires Bostik adhesives brand in Italy.


Bolton continued building up its brand portfolio into the next decade. The company acquired its distributor in the Czech Republic, establishing a direct presence in the fast-growing Central European market for the first time. That company was then renamed as Bolton Czechia.

In 2001, the company returned to the Netherlands, buying solvent cement producer Griffon International. That company held a leading position in the production of adhesives for the PVC pipe and fittings market in the Netherlands. At the same time, Bolton moved to expand into the Dutch home care and detergents market, buying Verwet BV in 2001. That purchase gave the company a number of leading brands, including WC Eend and Dubro. Also that year, the company picked up leading Swedish adhesives brand Karlson Klister.

Bolton exited the diaper market in 2001, selling Linostar to Kimberly-Clark Corporation. This move came as part of the companys effort to focus on further building its range of international brands. In support of this strategy, the company created a new distribution subsidiary, Bolton Swiss, which became the groups head office for its international brand development. That company started operations in 2002. At the same time, Bolton carried out a companywide rebranding effort, during which time most of its subsidiaries adopted the Bolton name. Among these were Brill Manitoba, which became Bolton Manitoba, and Trinity Alimentari, which became Bolton Alimentari.

Bolton expanded its interests in the Central European markets toward the middle of the decade. The company launched a new distribution subsidiary in Slovenia in 2003. That company began marketing the Rio Mare brand to a number of markets, including to the countries of the former Yugoslavia, before adding a dedicated subsidiary in Croatia in 2006. In 2005, Bolton added a subsidiary in Austria as well, positioning the group for an entry into the Eastern European markets as well.

Bolton continued adding to its brand portfolio at mid-decade. The company acquired a new sealant brand, Kolmat, in 2004, then boosted its adhesives division again through the acquisition of another major European brand, Bostik, in Italy, in 2006. In that year as well, Bolton expanded its range of personal care products through the acquisition of the Sanogyl toothpaste brand in France. Bolton had successfully built a strong portfolio of fast-moving consumer goods brands, making it one of the fast movers in the European FMCG market for the new century.

M. L. Cohen


Bolton CILE (Spain); Bolton Manitoba SpA; Bolton Solitaire S.A. (France); Bolton Belgium.; Bolton Manitoba España; Bolton Hellas S.A. (Greece); Bolton Nederland (Netherlands); Manzotin S.r.l; Saupiquet SA (France); UHU GmbH (Germany).


Unilever plc; The Procter & Gamble Company; Kraft Foods Inc.; Nestlé S.A.; Johnson & Johnson; Kimberly-Clark Corporation; LOréal S.A.; Reckitt & Coleman plc; Colgate-Palmolive Company.


Kimberly-Clark Buys Italian Diaper Maker, Dallas Business Journal, February 2, 2001, p. 46.

Peche et Froid Goes Dutch, Seafood International, October 2000, p. 17.

UHU Set to Grow Faster, Frankfurter Allgemeine, December 6, 2000, p. 51.

UHU Stic: Glue Your World Together, Business Recorder, November 16, 2005.