Sodastream sold

Andrew Verity
Thursday 30 April 1998 23:02
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TWENTY years after telling British children to "get bizzy with the fizzy", SodaStream, the firm that brought us home-made fizzy drinks, has been swallowed by a Dutch-Israeli group for pounds 15.5m.

Three directors of SodaStream, including Richard Handley, managing director, are expected to become millionaires after merging with the Soda- Club Group of the Netherlands and Israel.

SodaStream, a Peterborough-based company, triggered a craze in the 1970s with a TV campaign to persuade children to make their own soft drinks. By pressing a button, kids could inject carbon dioxide into a mixture of water and concentrate. Sales boomed in the 1970s but the machines went out of fashion in the 1980s. In 1985 Kenwood, then owners of SodaStream, sold the business to Cadbury Schweppes for pounds 22.5m.

While the British company's business went flat, Soda-Club's results sparkled as a new market was discovered in Germany, where hundreds of thousands of new machines are still sold every year.

The machines have grown popular in dry countries such as Israel, Morocco and Tunisia. Fountain House, a Canadian company which markets home-made gin and tonic or lager, has also entered a market which spans 16 countries.

Peter Wiseburgh, chief executive of Soda-Club, said the combined group should achieve sales of pounds 100m this year.

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