sophi tranchell divine

‘I am immensely proud of Divine, what it stands for and what it has achieved’: Sophi Tranchell

Divine Chocolate CEO Sophi Tranchell has left the Fairtrade champion after 21 years in charge, having helped secure a new owner for the business. 

Germany-headquartered Ludwig Weinrich, Divine’s long-time chocolate manufacturer, acquired the majority of the shares in the company from existing investors, including Twin Trading, which is behind Fairtrade brands Cafédirect and Liberation Nuts. 

Weinrich CEO Cord Budde will take the reins at Divine as chairman after restructuring the board. 

Tranchell decided to leave Divine in November and had been focused on ensuring the company was “left in good hands and well-supported for the future”, the group said. 

She was appointed as the company’s first MD in 1999 and became CEO of Divine Chocolate Group in 2015 when the UK and US businesses merged. 

“I am immensely proud of Divine, what it stands for and what it has achieved,” Tranchell said. 

“With a great team, and investors who had the vision and patience to support us, we set out to make a real difference in the chocolate industry – a real transition towards more equitable trade that could never again be undone. I believe Divine has led and catalysed such a change.” 

She added: “I am reassured to be leaving the company with our main manufacturer Weinrich having capitalised the business, in the knowledge that CEO Cord Budde has been, and continues to be, a totally committed partner, sharing Divine’s values and supporting its mission and ambitions.” 

Kuapa Kokoo, the farmers’ co-operative in Ghana and a founding shareholder of Divine, now owns 20% of the shares in the business – down from more than 40% – and continues to have board representation. 

Divine said the brand would retain its unique business model, with farmers at its heart, and continue the commitment to Fairtrade, a sustainable and traceable supply chain, and distribution to all its customers and supporters around the world. 

“It will remain committed to delivering positive impact for farmers in Africa,” the company said. 

Budde said Divine had changed his life. “Yes, that might sound a bit impassioned, but it is true,” he added. “Divine has brought me much closer to the most important part of our products, the cocoa and the farmers, and most important, made me much more sensitive regarding the needs and the livelihoods of those people who are producing this wonderful cocoa.” 

Tranchell had been a champion of Fairtrade, of business as a force for good, and of women achieving equality, particularly farmers in the chocolate supply chain, the company said. 

“Divine’s mission goes on – there is still a lot to do – but farmers’ income is right in the spotlight, as is the urgent need for social, environmental and economic sustainability, so there is optimism for more positive developments,” Tranchell added.