News broke last night that Hain Celestial -- the natural products roll-up home to such brands as Earth's Best, Alba Botanica, and Terra Chips -- acquired Boulder-based Rudi's Organic Bakery for $61.3 million in cash and stock. Hain has a long and rich track record of acquisitions in the natural products space, with Tilda (a leading global rice brand), Ella's Kitchen (premium organic baby food) and BluePrint (raw juices) all joining the Hain family within the past 18 months.
As is often the case with roll-up stratgies, consolidation breeds efficiencies across the portfolio, and accordingly, Food Navigator reports that Jane Miller, Rudi's iconic CEO, will step down from her role to pursue other opportunities. Among those opportunities? Miller already offers career advice to budding executives at janeknows.com, and she also has a book set to publish within the month called Sleep Your Way to the Top (And Other Myths About Business Success).
Hain acquired Rudi's from Charterhouse Equity Partners, a private-equity firm who first invested in Rudi's back in 2008. According to Hain, the deal will be accretive to earnings in FY2015, with Rudi's sales cracking the $60 million mark in CY2014. Of late, Rudi's upped its capacity to manufacture gluten-free products, a market sector in clear growth mode, as evidenced by NBJ research sizing gluten-free at $9.5 billion in 2013 estimated consumer sales with annual growth estimates hovering around 15% ongoing for the next few years.
Rudi's is yet another success story from the Boulder community of natural products entrepreneurs, and another example of those success stories attracting the eyes of larger CPGs hungry for growth. Late last year, we saw Earthbound Farm go to WhiteWave for $600 million in another landmark deal for the natural & organic food industry.
"As a company committed to driving product innovation, we plan to build upon Rudi's leadership position and see the opportunity to take Rudi's into other categories where the brand does not have products today.
We have a proven ability to expand great brands and products into various channels of distribution including the conventional, mass and club channels where we see significant opportunities for increased distribution."
So, is this deal just Hain being Hain, adding powerful natural brands to its growing roster of portfolio companies, or is something more afoot? NBJ asked David Thibodeau of Wellvest Capital for color commentary on the deal. "This is a very good acquisition for Hain," says Thibodeau. "Rudi’s has been struggling as of late, so becoming part of the Hain organization should help its growth prospects. The multiples are in line, and Charterhouse has held this company for a long time. I see this as an opportunist buy for Hain.
Shares of Hain (NASDAQ: HAIN) were up 2.4% at time of publication.