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Natural Foods Merchandiser

NBTY buys Solgar for $115 million

A busy spring for mergers kept rolling June 7 as NBTY Inc. of Bohemia, N.Y., announced its intent to purchase Solgar Vitamin and Herb Co. for $115 million.

NBTY intends to use the Solgar brand to build a relationship with independent health food stores, according to NBTY President Harvey Kamil. Solgar, based in Leonia, N.J., had about $105 million in sales last year.

?Solgar will be dedicated, absolutely dedicated, to the independent health food store and the independent health food store owner,? he said. ?The Solgar team will be an autonomously run company.? Madison, N.J.-based Wyeth Consumer Healthcare, a division of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, purchased Solgar in 1998. Divesting of Solgar ?allows us to concentrate on our core business in the nutrition segment, which is Centrum,? spokesman Doug Petkus said. Other than Solgar, all the brands in Wyeth?s consumer division, including Preparation H and Advil, are sold in conventional food, drug and discount stores.

New products will be an early focus under NBTY ownership. ?Wyeth was very slow to react to market conditions,? Kamil said.

At the end of 2004, NBTY operated 560 Vitamin World and Nutrition Warehouse stores in the United States, as well as Holland & Barrett stores in the United Kingdom and Ireland, GNC stores in the U.K., DeTuinen stores in the Netherlands, and Puritan Pride, a catalog and e-commerce business. Its supplement brands include Nature?s Bounty, Rexall, Sundown, Carb Solutions, MET-Rx, Worldwide Sport Nutrition, CarbWise and American Health.

Other recent deals

  • Cadbury Schweppes paid an estimated $40 million to acquire organic chocolatier Green & Black?s.
  • Cadbury has owned a 5 percent share of Green & Black?s since 2002 and also owns the Snapple and Nantucket Nectars brands. With an estimated $45 million in sales in 2004 and a growth rate of 69 percent, Green & Black?s is the fastest-growing confectionery brand in the United Kingdom.

    Founded in 1991 by husband-and-wife team Craig Sams (chair of the Soil Association) and Jo Fairley, the company sold an 80 percent stake in the company in 1999 to an investor group.

    Neither the management team nor Green & Black?s commitment to fair trade sources will change, according to the companies. ?Cadbury Schweppes intends Green & Blacks to run as a stand-alone business, so it?s very much business as usual,? spokeswoman Debbie Feickert said.

  • Premier Foods, a U.K. conventional food producer bought the meat alternative Quorn for about $340 million.
  • Quorn?s original owner, the pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, sold it to Marlow Foods, a private equity group, for about $115 million two years ago. Quorn holds a 60 percent share of the U.K. meat alternatives business, and Premier intends to spend money on marketing to increase its presence in Europe and the United States.

    Premier Chief Executive Robert Schofield said the brand has been growing 7 percent to 8 percent a year. ?What we see are the healthy eaters who don?t want to give up the meat but are under some pressure at home to eat more healthily and turn to products like Quorn.?

    Premier Foods owns a number of marquee brands in the United Kingdom, including Branston?s pickles and Ty-Phoo tea. It has grown through acquisition in recent years, buying Crosse & Blackwell condiments and several other brands from Nestlé in 2002. This is its first foray into the healthy foods business.

  • Global Organic Brands, manufacturer of the Mediterranean Organics line, has acquired the licensing rights for the Rapunzel Pure Organics brand in the United States.
  • The Global Organics-Rapunzel deal is not an acquisition of the company, which is a division of the German firm Rapunzel Naturkost, one of the largest organic and fair-trade brands in Europe. Rapunzel USA also distributes Biotta juices and the A. Vogel seasonings line.

    ?Global Organic acquired the licensing rights to Rapunzel-branded products and did not acquire the company in the U.S.,? said David Robinov, co-founder of Katonah, N.Y.-based Global. Rapunzel?s product line and distribution channels will remain intact, according to Eckhart Kiesel, Rapunzel?s president.

    ?By joining Global Organic Brands? family, we hope to increase our presence in both conventional and natural foods retail outlets,? Kiesel said.

  • NOW Foods Inc. of Bloomingdale, Ill., paid an undisclosed amount for Burnham Labs, a formulator and private-label manufacturer of personal care products and cosmetics.
  • Dan Richard, sales manager at NOW, described Burnham Labs, of Niles, Ill., as ?very good with new products, good at making small runs and formulations.? Burnham?s former owners, John and Soo Chang, will consult as Burnham phases out synthetic ingredients and expands its natural capabilities.

  • Ontario, Canada-based SunOpta Inc. acquired Earthwise Processors LLC, a producer of soy and other grains, based in Moorhead, Minn. Terms were not disclosed.
  • With more than $10 million in annual revenue, Earthwise is described as ?a vertically integrated producer of organic and identity-preserved non-GMO grains.? Acquiring the business expands SunOpta?s grower base and offers it new product options in soy, organic flax and organic wheat.

  • Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy Inc. completed a $7.5 million private equity round, bringing its total capitalization to more than $40 million.
  • Pharmaca will use its latest financing round to open more locations and to hire a chief operating officer and other senior managers. Ron Brill, former chief administrative officer and member of the board of directors of Home Depot, has joined Pharmaca?s board. The Boulder, Colo., chain now operates 11 pharmacies in Colorado, California, Oregon, New Mexico and Washington.

    Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVI/number 7/p. 7, 9

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