Hillshire Brands to Acquire Van's Natural Foods

Buying frozen breakfast, snack foods company

Van's Hillshire (CSP Daily News / CSPnet / Convenience Store Petroleum)

CHICAGO & GREENWICH, Conn. -- The Hillshire Brands Co. and private-equity firm Catterton Partners have announced that Hillshire Brands has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Catterton portfolio company Van's Natural Foods.

Van's is a leading "better-for-you" food brand offering multiple product lines in frozen breakfast and snack foods.

Hillshire Brands will pay $165 million for Van's, which is expected to have net revenues of approximately $60 million in 2014. The companies expect the transaction to close in May 2014 pending regulatory clearance.

"The Van's brand is a terrific addition to our portfolio," said Sean Connolly, president and CEO of The Hillshire Brands Co. "Not only does it expand our presence in the frozen category, it also gives us a proven health and wellness brand with extendability beyond frozen."

Van's Natural Foods will become part of Hillshire Brands' Retail segment, pairing with well-known brands such as Jimmy Dean, Hillshire Farm and Ball Park. Van's Natural Foods' management will continue to lead the business.

"As a leader in branded foods including breakfast products, Hillshire Brands is an ideal strategic partner for Van's," said Eric Kufel, CEO of Van's Natural Foods. "Our positioning in the large and growing wellness consumer lifestyle segment is a perfect complement to Hillshire Brands' product portfolio. We are pleased to have worked with Catterton, which helped drive our significant growth and market expansion into multiple new categories. I am truly excited to be joining with Hillshire and beginning the next phase of Van's growth journey."

Van's is a leading "simple/clean" ingredient food brand in frozen breakfast and snack foods including waffles, pancakes, cereal, crackers and snack bars. Van's frozen breakfast and snack foods are available at grocery stores, mass merchandise stores and natural food retailers nationwide.

Marc Magliacano, a Partner at Catterton, said, "We are proud of the brand and distinctive market positioning that we and the Van's management team have created over the past few years. This transaction is a win for all parties involved and we are confident and excited that under Hillshire's ownership Van's will continue to experience significant growth and capitalize on new opportunities."

Catterton Partners is a leading consumer-focused private-equity firm with more than $4 billion currently under management that invests in all major consumer segments, including food and beverage, retail and restaurants, consumer products and services, consumer health and media and marketing services. Catterton's investments include Kettle Foods, Wellness and Nature's Variety Pet Food, Odwalla, CorePower Yoga, Sweet Leaf Tea, Restoration Hardware, Outback Steakhouse, Noodles & Co., PIADA, Pirch, Frederic Fekkai, Build-A-Bear Workshop and P.F. Chang's, among others.

Van's Natural Foods, Phoenix, is a leading foods brand in gluten-free and allergy-friendly, frozen breakfast and snack foods.

Hillshire Brands, Chicago, is a leader in branded foods. The company generated approximately $4 billion in annual sales in fiscal 2013. Hillshire Brands' portfolio includes iconic brands such as Jimmy Dean, Ball Park, Hillshire Farm, State Fair, Sara Lee frozen bakery and Chef Pierre pies, as well as artisanal brands Aidells, Gallo Salame and Golden Island premium jerky.