The deal was cemented between RH Amar and the world's largest manufacturer of olive oil, Grupo SOS, which bought the Bertolli olive oil and premium vinegar business from Unilever last July for £500m.
RH Amar held the UK distribution rights to Filippo Berio for 25 years until last September, when the distribution agreement ended by mutual agreement. Chairman Henry Amar told The Grocer that returning RH Amar to the olive oil business was always high on his agenda and Bertolli, with its global credentials, was a prime target.
"When Unilever sold Bertolli to Grupo SOS it intensified our interest in the brand," said Amar. "Grupo SOS supplies 22% of the world's packaged olive oil. For the world's largest olive oil producer to entrust the world's most famous olive oil to us, Britain's leading olive oil distributor, is a most exciting prospect."
Amar admitted it would be "slightly strange" to lock horns with Fillipo Berio, but revealed he had great plans to boost Bertolli's share of the UK market. "Our first step will be to expand the range which has always been narrow and limited," said Amar. "We need to considerably widen Bertolli's customer base and focus on gaps in the independent trade and foodservice - where it is neglected. There are only a finite number of things you can do with olive oil as a product but we want to offer Bertolli's customers and consumers a bigger choice of sizes and give it the sales focus it has been lacking."
While Amar agreed recession wasn't the easiest environment to relaunch a business, he claimed the olive oil business was still capable of "great expansion," and predicted marketing to feature strongly in the brand's UK revival.
"Household penetration of olive oil in the UK is only 50%, which is an exciting challenge," he added.