Tosca Continues to Expand Rapidly in Reusable Packaging Pooling Space, Acquires Contraload

  • The acquisition expands Tosca’s capabilities to service the entire supply chain – first mile through last-mile delivery
  • Addition of Contraload will enhance Tosca’s geographic and product diversification

Tosca, a leading reusable packaging pooling provider, has agreed to acquire Contraload NV, a leader in plastic pallet pooling in the United Kingdom and European Union.

The acquisition of Contraload will expand Tosca’s geographic reach and increase its product portfolio. The combined company will offer customers a stronger value proposition through increased network density and an expanded product offering. Funds advised by Apax Partners, which acquired Tosca in 2017, will commit additional capital to Tosca to finance the acquisition of Contraload.

“Tosca’s acquisition of Contraload, a leader in plastic pallet pooling in the United Kingdom and European Union, establishes our combined company as an even stronger partner for our customers globally and allows us to continue to propel the reusable revolution.”


Greater than 20% organic growth

With more than 20% annual organic growth, Contraload has developed a strong growth path over the past years, strengthening its sales team to increase its European footprint and ensure operational excellence. The expansion of the product range, among other things via the strategic acquisition of PLS in 2018 (pooling & cleaning layer pads), provided an additional growth element.

The company today employs 155 people and posted sales of EUR 46 million in 2019. Since its inception in 2004, Contraload has invested more than EUR 75 million in cargo carriers such as plastic pallets, bulk containers, and layer pads, and will soon manage over three million assets that provide services to around 800 customers via more than 4,000 collection points in Europe. This makes the company the market leader in a niche segment with great growth potential.

Sale value of more than EUR 250 million, projected 2020 sales of EUR 55 million

The company was founded in 2004 by Sylvain Naets and Jesse Sels, two highly entrepreneurial ex-CHEP employees. In 2014 Down2Earth bought almost half of the shares. Two years later, Gimv, another financial provider, also added capital. According to one report, the Contraload sale was valued at more than EUR 250 million.  Sales for 2019 registered EUR 46 million with a projection of 55 million for 2020. Contraload is particularly profitable with an expected gross operating profit (EBITDA) of around 20 million for the current year.

Down2Earth (30.2%), Gimv (32%), Jesse Sels and Sylvain Naets (who is no longer active in the company) sold their shares to Tosca, according to the report. Sels will remain CEO of Contraload and the management of Contraload will reinvest in the Tosca group.

Tosca has a 60-year history of innovation that has driven its growth into a leading North American provider of reusable packaging and supply chain solutions across a wide array of markets. Today, the company is the largest RPC pooler in North America, offering an enhanced product portfolio and the most extensive service center network for grocery retailers and suppliers. It employs more than 1,236 people and operates 29 service centers worldwide.

Expanded global reach, the addition of first mile capabilities

“Tosca’s acquisition of Contraload, a leader in plastic pallet pooling in the United Kingdom and European Union, establishes our combined company as an even stronger partner for our customers globally and allows us to continue to propel the reusable revolution,” stated Eric Frank, CEO of Tosca.

“Having built Contraload into the leader in pooling plastic pallets, layer pads and IBCs in the B2B environment across Europe, we are excited to join with the Tosca team through this transaction,” stated Jesse Sels, Contraload’s Founder and Managing Director. “Our companies have a shared commitment to service excellence, innovation and reducing waste throughout the supply chain.

“The demand from our customers is increasingly international and also more specific for well-defined solutions,” he added. “Through the strong global network, the link with retailers, and the financial power of Tosca/Apax, we can jointly develop a unique range that can take us to new heights with new innovative products and ambitious plans. We have had a great run with D2E Capital and Gimv (former investors) and are now standing on a new starting line.”

“Three years ago, we partnered with Tosca’s management team to build a world-class pooling business that brings sustainability, innovation and value to customers’ supply chains,” said Ashish Karandikar, Partner at Apax Partners. “The acquisition of Polymer in 2019 established Tosca’s ‘last mile’ capabilities in Europe. The combination with Contraload represents another important advance as it brings together Tosca’s last-mile capabilities with Contraload’s offerings in the ‘first mile’ of a product journey – thereby creating unique visibility and value for customers. The combined organization offers a strong global network, an expanding reusables portfolio, improved research and development, and custom capability for all customers from CPGs to grocery chains.”

According to one report from Israel, the Polymer Logistics acquisition by Tosca in late 2019 was valued at $310 million, with Polymer enjoying sales of around $80 million.