Iconic RI brand Autocrat sold to UK company - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Iconic RI brand Autocrat sold to UK company

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By Dana Griffin

dgriffin@abc6.com

@danaRgriffin

LINCOLN, RI- It's rare to find a Rhode Islander who hasn't had coffee milk.

The company that produces the coffee–flavored syrup used to make the official state drink has been sold to a London based company, James Finlay Limited. It’s one of the largest tea producers in the world.

"This gives us access to capital at a much lower rate then we could before and gives us an opportunity to expand so it was an excellent fit when they approached us about six months ago," said Patrick Holmes, Jr.

Marrying the overseas company will allow access to Europe and Asia markets without the company having to spend a dime.

John Gregory, president and CEO of the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce says this buyout won't change a thing.

"Is there a psychological impact? Yeah. You're talking to a chamber of commerce guy. I wish all Rhode Island businesses were Rhode Island owned but the reality is we’re in a global economy so the best case scenario is one we've talked about with Autocrat. They've been bought out, but yet nothing's gonna change. They're still gonna manufacture coffee syrup. Nobody's losing their job so that's a good thing," said Gregory.

Lincoln resident, Bobby Joe Zeekas said, "I'm a real big advocate for U.S. run companies especially because a lot of people have lost jobs. So I’m wondering what are they gonna do. Are they gonna  end up you know depreciating the company by making everybody's jobs part time or changing the flavor of coffee milk?

Holmes adds, "They shouldn't worry about us leaving. We're committed to Rhode Island. We're committed to our product line that people here and we're going to be here for a long time."

Only a small portion of the company’s profit is generated in Rhode Island.

Autocrat's largest customer is in Kansas, the second largest is in Montréal, and the third is in Texas.

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