STAMFORD, Conn. -- Six years after purchasing the Sweet Leaf and Tradewinds ready-to-drink tea brands in an effort to build a complete tea portfolio, Nestle Waters North America has agreed to sell the two brands to Dunn’s River Brands, a portfolio company of private equity firm Fireman Capital Partners. The amount of the sale was not disclosed. The purchase agreements were signed Dec. 15, and the transaction is expected to close before the end of the year.
Nestle Waters purchased the Sweet Leaf Tea Co., which previously owned both brands, in May 2011 after making an initial investment in the company two years earlier. Twenty months later, company took full ownership of the Nestea line, which it previously shared with Coca-Cola, creating a three-tier portfolio of iced teas with Nestea as a mainstream brand, Tradewinds as premium and Sweet Leaf in the specialty category. Nestle Waters relaunched the Nestea brand in February 2017 in an effort to revive the brand.
Now the company is letting go of two of the tea brands, a step President and CEO Fernando Merce said was "difficult."
“This transaction is part of our ongoing strategy to focus on strengthening our core business and drive performance through streamlined operations," Merce said. "We took this difficult but important step to position us to further deliver upon our healthy hydration ambitions.”
Meanwhile, Kevin McClafferty, CEO of Dunn’s River Brands, said he looks forward to bringing new enthusiasm to the tea brands.
“We are excited to have the opportunity to add the Tradewinds and Sweet Leaf Tea businesses to the Dunn’s River Brands portfolio," he said. "The combined entities will form the new company The Sweet Leaf Tea Co. We believe these are very strong brands in their respective categories and are looking forward to leaning into them with full marketing and sales support moving forward.”
Stamford, Conn.-based Nestle Waters North America owns and markets several regional spring-water brands across the United States, as well as Nestle Pure Life, Perrier and San Pellegrino.
Canonsburg, Pa.-based Dunn’s River Brands seeks to partner with founders and management in emerging branded beverage companies to provide financial, strategic and administrative support.