An international house of brands 2000-2021
Hero family grows further2000-2004
Hero family grows further
Three years after the merger (2000), Semper Foods split, leaving Semper AB as an independent subsidiary of Arla.
In a busy few years, Hero acquired the popular premium Portuguese brand Casa de Mateus in 2001 and entered the Turkish market in 2002 as a joint venture company with Ülker with the brand name Hero Baby. That same year, Hero acquired a majority stake in Schwartau and entered the Swiss baby food market by acquiring Wander’s Adapta and Galactina brands. The company also expanded into Eastern Europe through the purchase of the Sunar trademark in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
After 90 years, Hero goes private and exits the stock market in 2003. The Semper nutrition business is sold to Novartis. Triton acquires Semper and the business is focused on infant food and gluten-free. In May 2004, Hero established a footprint in the Czech Republic and Slovakia with a team of 30 people.
Busy years for Hero2005-2009
Busy years for Hero
Hero acquired Beech-Nut and Vitrac – establishing the Hero Middle East & Africa hub – in 2005. Semper joined the Group in 2006, a deal which included Juvela.
The generation of knowledge in the infant nutrition segment led to the creation of the Institute of Child Nutrition on premises in Alcantarilla and an innovation and quality center at Schwartau in Germany in 2006.
Hero acquires the Friso brand (today Hero Baby) from Friesland Foods in 2007 and expanded into the Russian and Belgian markets through a licensing agreement with Blédina. Semper opens two subsidiaries in Norway and Finland, followed by another in Denmark two years later. The global baby food line Hero Baby is introduced to Egypt by Hero MEA and quickly established a large share in the Egyptian and regional markets.
In 2008, Hero entered the organic baby food sector in the UK through the acquisition of Organix. Hero Russia was formed as an organization that year, taking over the distribution operations that had begun in the late 1990s. In 2009, a new baby food plant was opened in Ankara, Turkey, as part of the joint venture between Hero and Ülker.
New Lenzburg headquarters inaugurated2010-2011
New Lenzburg headquarters inaugurated
A crisp bread factory is acquired by Semper in Korsnäs and turned into a gluten-free bakery in 2010, the same year Schwartau sold its baking and decorating department to the Dr August Oetker Group in Bielefeld to focus on its core business areas.
The building of the Hero Group’s new headquarters and factory in Lenzburg was completed in 2011, right on time for the company’s 125th anniversary. Previously, the company had its production facilities and offices right next to the Lenzburg train station.
Rob Versloot takes over at helm2012-2015
Rob Versloot takes over at helm
In 2012, Kiviks Marknad (Hero Brazil) moved to a new headquarters in Itatiba, and a new jam factory was completed by Schwartau. As Hero Spain celebrated their 90th anniversary in 2012, Dutch national Rob Versloot was appointed as CEO of the Hero Group. He still holds this position today.
In 2015, the JV between Ülker and Hero was ended with Hero acquiring 100% of the shares and establishing its position in the country. In December, the Hero Group entered into a joint venture with Kiviks Marknad, and the company name changed to Hero Brazil.
After a 10-year absence, Hero Portugal relaunched the Hero Baby brand in 2015, at the same time as Hero Spain celebrated the 30th anniversary since the launch of the same brand.
Huge investment in Sweden2016-2018
Huge investment in Sweden
Leopold Oetker, son of the Hero Honorary Chairman and main shareholder Dr Arend Oetker, was appointed to the Hero Board of Directors, further strengthening the family’s commitment to the company in 2016.
A large investment, known as the Triple One Project, is made in the infant formula production facility in Götene, Sweden, in 2018. Meanwhile, Hero and the German organic baby and toddler food company erdbär GmbH enter into a strategic partnership, allowing the Hero Group to enter into the important German market with baby and toddler food products, one of its core categories.
Hero expands further2019-2021
Hero expands further
Dr Hasso Kaempfe steps down as chairman of the Hero Group Board of Directors in 2019. His successor is Giovanni Ciserani, a former P&G executive. Margaret Versteden, CEO at bol.com, is also appointed to the board. This is also an anniversary year, with Semper celebrating 80 years since its founding and Schwartau marking its 120th anniversary.
In 2020, Hero partnered with the Italian Angellini Group to form the baby food company MadreNatura, which enters the Italian baby and toddler food market. After a complex and protracted process, the Hero Group achieves certification to produce organic products for the Chinese market in its Spanish facility.
Early 2021, the Hero Group acquired a majority shareholding in the Canadian organic baby and toddler food company Baby Gourmet. A year later, the Group’s UK-based gluten free company Juvela was sold.