Lettieri's Goes on the Block

Food vendor hires investment bank to raise acquisition interest

SHAKOPEE, Minn. -- One of the industry's leading food vendors will likely be under new ownership by the end of the summer. The owners of Lettieri's Inc., Shakopee, Minn., have hired an investment bank to help them find a buyer.

Anybody that is connected with food, particularly in the c-store side, is somebody who's going to be interested in us, Merrill Ayers, senior vice president and CFO of Lettieri's, told CSP Daily News. It could be names that are actually in the market. It could also be private equity groups, investors that are looking for companies [image-nocss] like ourselves as part of their overall portfolio.

Lettieri's is a food vendor that focuses on the development of hand-held products for the foodservice industry. Its products range from a variety of breakfast sandwiches, stuffed baguettes and authentic calzones to gourmet sandwiches, including hamburger, cheeseburger and chicken-filet sandwiches and several sausage products wrapped in bread, called Wrap-Dogs.

The privately owned company's customers include major petroleum companies, large-scale club stores, vending companies, several airline companies and other foodservice outlets. Lettieri's products are currently in more than 22,000 convenience stores throughout the United States.

Ayers said he doesn't expect the company's strategic direction to change with the ownership. There is no change in strategy, focus or future direction, he said. We've got that well-defined and anybody looking [to buy] us is looking at us for that reason.

The choice to sell the company is really a shareholder issue and an investor group decision, said Ayers. We have engaged investment banker Harris Nesbitt [of Chicago] to help get us through that process. We have a fairly diverse shareholder group. They've been owners of this company for many years. I think they decided that it's time to find a new owner and get the company additional resources to continue with fairly rapid growth.

Ayers said he expects a buyer will be announced by mid-summer.