Swiss chocolate production equipment manufacturer Bühler Group has acquired the Haas Group, a century-old Austrian manufacturer of wafer, biscuit and confectionery production systems.

The agreement, signed in Vienna last week, allows Bühler to complete its Consumer Foods product portfolio. It also offers Haas access to resources available through the global Bühler organization, especially its 100 service stations and innovation network.

“Out of a position of strength, we are entrusting the future of our company to the family-owned Bühler Group,” says Johann Haas, member of the company’s supervisory board. “This allows us to create the best possible conditions for successfully continuing the development of our business, for the benefit of both our customers and our employees.”

Noting Bühler Group has maintained a friendly relationship with Haas over the years, Bühler CEO Stefan Scheiber said joining forces will benefit customers and employees, who will remain with Haas.

“Together, we can generate significant added value for our customers while at the same time opening up new prospects for the employees of Haas,” Scheiber said.

The Haas Group, a family-owned company, was founded more than 100 years ago in Vienna as a metalworking shop. In the middle of the last century, it began manufacturing wafer machinery.

Over the following decades, Haas evolved into a global leader in the field of production systems for wafers, hard and soft biscuits, ice cream cones, cakes and baked goods. These activities were complemented with a minor business field as a supplier of automotive parts.

With its global workforce of 1,750, Haas generates sales revenues of about $358 million and operates manufacturing sites in six countries. With Bühler’s acquisition, Haas’ former owners want to continue the long-term success of the business.

“Today’s market and technology trends, whose impact and speed will continue to increase, have prompted us to take this step,” Johann Haas says, noting the capability of offering complete solutions and of further automating and digitizing them will become increasingly important in the future. He said this requires a certain corporate size with a strong global presence and the related customer proximity, as well as high capital investment power.

“Bühler offers precisely this environment,” Haas continued. “It is for this reason that we sought exclusive talks with them on the change in ownership, and we are glad to have found a sound and future-oriented solution for all the parties involved.”

For Bühler, this acquisition marks a milestone in the development of its Consumer Foods business, allowing it to enter the wafer and biscuit production system market.

“We operate in the same markets and often serve the same customers, but there is no overlapping of our products and services,” Scheiber says, noting Bühler can offer its food customers new diversification opportunities. He added that the two companies have similar corporate cultures as family-owned businesses that are based on trust and committed to sustainability.

“It is hard to imagine a better basis for successful integration, and we will do everything in our power to generate added value for both our customers and our employees,” Scheiber continued.

Bühler will make its global service station network accessible to Haas customers, develop complete solutions for the production of wafers, biscuits, and confectionery with chocolate, and integrate Haas in the innovation management network of Bühler. Together the companies will also expand their footprint into Asia.

“We have profound respect for what Haas and its workforce have accomplished over the past decades,” Scheiber says. “We warmly welcome every single employee of Haas to the Bühler family and will join forces with them to continue the success of these business fields. What we must do now is seize these unique opportunities and make the best out of them.”

The acquisition, though subject to regulatory approval, is set to close at the end of 2017. Financial details have not been disclosed.

The company will be headed by Germar Wacker, who was named ceo of Haas Sept. 5.