Lincoln-based Autocrat sold to UK company

If you live in Rhode Island you probably know Autocrat, which has been around for more than 100 years.

"We produce flavors that are used in food and beverages throughout the North American market," said Autocrat CEO Patrick Holmes.

James Finlay Ltd. announced Tuesday it bought 100 percent of the share capital of Lincoln-based company for an undisclosed sum.

Holmes said there won't be a name change to the company, and that the manufacturing facility will remain producing syrup for coffee milk, the official state drink of Rhode Island.

Holmes said there are about 100 people employed at the facility and that no jobs will be lost.

"This gives us access to capital at a much lower rate than what we had before and it gives us an opportunity to expand so it was an excellent fit when they approached us about six months ago," he said.

Holmes said the Autocrat look will remain, and that more jobs could be added. He said coffee milk is the company's smallest product line.

"Only a tiny bit of our business is here but we're known as a brand here. In the rest of the country we're an ingredient supplier," Holmes said.

The sale comes at a time when another Rhode Island-based coffee company continues to grow. Dave's Coffee, which has a shop in Charlestown, was just picked up at Crate and Barrel stores.

When asked about the Autocrat sale, the owner of Dave's Coffee released a statement that said in part, "Autocrat has done an amazing job over the past 84 years of establishing coffee syrup as a Rhode Island tradition and household staple ... but I'm a firm believer that a product so closely rooted to our state should give back to its people help fuel growth here at home."