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Franke Acquires Espresso Specialists
Press release from Franke Coffee Systems, Date: August 25, 2004
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(SEATTLE-August 25, 2004) Aarburg, Switzerland-based Franke Coffee Systems, a global leader in the supply of commercial superautomatic espresso machines, has acquired its top-selling importer, Espresso Specialists, Inc. of Seattle. According to Franke Coffee Systems CEO Marga Gyger, the acquisition is an important step in Franke's goal of being the world's number one supplier of professional coffee machines. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"We were attracted to Espresso Specialists by its people; it's a quality sales and service organization with unparalleled knowledge of espresso, espresso equipment and the U.S. market," said Gyger. "This deal adds depth to our global key account team, and we're well positioned for market leadership in the U.S."

Espresso Specialists (ESI) retains its close relationship with traditional espresso equipment supplier La Marzocco s.r.l. of Florence, Italy through a revitalized long-term operating agreement. The relationship began in 1978, and it has made La Marzocco the leading high volume espresso machine in the U.S. La Marzoccos can be found in single-location destination espresso bars and industry leaders, including four of the U.S.'s top five specialty coffee retailers. (The fifth member of that group has a growing number of Franke machines.)

Kent Bakke, ESI's founder and CEO, transitions to president of ESI-Franke. "The U.S. market for commercial espresso equipment has long been heavily fragmented," said Bakke. "Leaders will emerge in the supply chain, and this deal signals that we're going to be in there."

Part of privately held Franke Holding AG, a $1.1 billion company in 2003, Franke Coffee Systems has three sister business units: Franke Kitchen Systems, Franke Washroom and Sanitary Systems and Franke Foodservice Systems. Franke Kitchen Systems provides stainless steel sinks, faucets and other home kitchen equipment. Franke Washroom and Sanitary Systems supplies washroom and sanitary equipment for professional application. Franke Foodservice Systems provides products and services for multi-unit restaurant chains.

Prior to the acquisition, ESI was already one of the top commercial espresso equipment suppliers in the U.S. with a leading market share at the high end of both the traditional and superautomatic machine markets. ESI plans to continue its relationships with over 125 resellers in the U.S., ranging from microroasters and small service providers to the country's leading wholesale coffee providers. It will actively seek to grow a service network that already features nearly 300 ESI-certified service provider companies.

"Our horizons have expanded significantly," said Kelly Traw, vice president of marketing at ESI. "Key accounts looking for superautomatic machines are working directly with the factory when they talk to us. And espresso purists seeking the best traditional machine will get better service than they've ever had."

Espresso Specialists, Inc. is the Seattle-based office of Franke Coffee Systems, one of four business units of Franke Holding AG. The combined $1.1 billion company has diverse capabilities in kitchen equipment, sanitary systems and foodservice contracting and consulting. ESI sells Franke superautomatic espresso machines directly in the U.S. and exclusively imports La Marzocco and Rio traditional espresso equipment. For more information, visit www.esiespresso.com or www.franke.com.

Contact: Kelly Traw, Director of Marketing, ESI
206-784-9563 ext. 34; or kellyt@esiespresso.com

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