GREENWICH, Conn. and NEW YORK, Sept 17, 2007 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- North Castle Partners, along with its co-investors and certain management team members, announced today that it has acquired a controlling interest in Atkins Nutritional Holdings, Inc. ("Atkins"), one of the most widely-known weight- management brands in the rapidly growing weight loss industry. North Castle is a leading private equity firm focused exclusively on investments in consumer-driven product and service businesses that benefit from "Healthy Living and Aging" trends. The terms of the investment were not disclosed.
Atkins markets nutrition bars and ready-to-drink shakes under its Atkins Advantage brand, as well as better-for-you confectionary products under its Atkins Endulge brand, as weight loss and lifestyle tools in the more than $30 billion U.S. weight-loss industry. The Company is a leader in nutrition and weight management with its products currently being sold through mass, supermarket and club channels in approximately 30,000 retail locations throughout the United States.
"We are excited about the Atkins acquisition as our latest Nutrition platform investment, particularly given its focus on the pervasive weight management industry and the increasing consumer interest in health and weight issues. We believe that Atkins is a strong brand with tremendous opportunity for growth," said Chip Baird, North Castle's Founder and Managing Partner.
North Castle Managing Director Lou Marinaccio added, "Atkins will benefit from substantial strategic and operational enhancements that we will bring by leveraging an extensive knowledge base and network from prior investments in similar Nutrition industry leaders, including Naked Juice and EAS. Consequently, we are pleased to be partnering once again with Monty Sharma, former CEO of EAS and Naked Juice, who will become the CEO of Atkins, effective immediately."
Mr. Sharma's successful leadership of Naked Juice, a former North Castle Company, culminated in the strategic sale of that company to PepsiCo in January 2007. Mr. Sharma and his team led the rapid growth of Naked Juice in 2005-2006 by expanding distribution, accelerating new product launches, and repositioning the Naked Juice brand. Mr. Sharma was also instrumental as the CEO of EAS, a North Castle portfolio company that was a leading developer and distributor of active lifestyle nutrition products, including meal replacement bars and RTDs, and a competitor of Atkins. North Castle sold EAS in 2004 to Abbott Laboratories. Mr. Sharma will be bringing to Atkins a number of experienced managers with backgrounds with Naked Juice and EAS who, in partnership with North Castle and its advisors, will contribute over 100 years of collective experience in the weight management and nutrition fields to the Company.
"I am excited to partner with North Castle in continuing to grow Atkins as a company that helps consumers get and stay healthy through excellent nutrition," said Mr. Sharma. "We are looking forward to enhancing the diet program and launching innovative new products, while expanding distribution, to accelerate brand growth at Atkins."
"The combination of a strong management team, the involvement of North Castle's Operating Advisors, and North Castle's general knowledge and experience from building other successful nutrition businesses, such as Naked Juice and EAS, provides the foundation for Atkins to enhance its position as a leading weight management brand," said Mr. Baird.
The year 2007 has been an active period for North Castle. In addition to the Atkins investment, the firm has acquired a controlling interest in Performance, Inc., the largest independent bicycle dealer and direct marketer of bicycles and cycling accessories in the United States; recapitalized Octane Fitness (returning a dividend equal to 1.0x its 2005 investment); and sold 3 companies to strategic acquirers (Avalon Organics(R) and Alba Botanica(R) natural and organic personal care brands to The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. (HAIN) , the Naked Juice Company to PepsiCo (PEP) and HDS Cosmetics Lab, Inc., the manufacturer and marketer of Doctor's Dermatologic Formula (DDF) skin care, to The Procter & Gamble Company (PG) .
About North Castle Partners
North Castle Partners is a leading private equity firm focused exclusively on investments in consumer-driven product and service businesses that benefit from "Healthy Living and Aging" trends. North Castle is a hands-on, value- added investor in high-growth, middle market companies in the (i) aesthetics & personal care, (ii) consumer health, (iii) fitness & recreation, (iv) home & leisure and (v) nutrition industries.
North Castle's current portfolio includes such well-known brands as glominerals, Red Door Spas, Enzymatic Therapy, Performance Bicycles, and Octane Fitness. Prior portfolio company holdings include Equinox Fitness, EAS, CRC Health Group, Doctor's Dermatologic Formula, Naked Juice Company and Avalon Natural Products.
North Castle is led by a seasoned investment team including 12 proactive operating advisors who bring a wide range of operational and investment capabilities as well as an extensive knowledge base and network. The strength of the North Castle team, combined with our focus and network, provides significant competitive advantages in building world-class companies. North Castle is headquartered in Greenwich, CT. For more information, visit www.northcastlepartners.com.
About Atkins Nutritional, Inc.
ANI is a market-leading portable nutrition company offering great-tasting bars and shakes under the Atkins Advantage brand that have a proven nutrition advantage versus the competition - high protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, low sugar and no trans fats. Atkins Advantage nutrition bars and shakes appeal to the broad audience of healthy, active men and women who choose foods wisely to enhance their health and well-being and are available for purchase in top retailers throughout North America. To see how Atkins Advantage is staking its claim as the new look of nutrition, visit www.atkins.com.