December 12/Downers Grove, Ill./Wall Street Journal-- Sara Lee Corp. signed an agreement to acquire Dutch cafe-store operator CoffeeCompany, the latest deal made by the consumer-products company to strengthen its coffee business ahead of a planned split of the company.

Once a hodgepodge of household products and food brands, Sara Lee is splitting apart, separating into an international coffee and tea business and a North American business that includes the Jimmy Dean and Hillshire Farms brands.

"This acquisition is part of our strategy to create a pure-play coffee and tea company poised for strong growth," chairman Jan Bennink said, adding the deal will make Sara Lee the number-one cafe operator in the Netherlands.

The deal is expected to close within 30 days, pending final closing conditions. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Sara Lee plans to retain the current management team of CoffeeCompany, which will run a network of 60 cafes with more than seven million yearly consumer visits. The cafe-stores business has a strong presence in downtown locations in major cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague.

The company's split is on track to occur during the first half of calendar year 2012.

Late last month, Sara Lee and its Norwegian partner, Kaffehuset Friele, signed a pact with ISS A/S to acquire the House of Coffee business, a food-service provider in Norway and Denmark, as the companies look to bolster their presence in the office coffee market.

 From the December 12, 2011, Prepared Foods' Daily News.