GREENWICH, CONN. — Great Kitchens Food Company Inc., a newly formed portfolio company of Greenwich-based private equity firm Brynwood Partners VIII LP, has acquired the take-and-bake pizza business of Aryzta North America. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
The acquisition immediately makes newly formed Great Kitchens a leader in the private label take-and-bake pizza market, operating a 165,000-square-foot crust manufacturing plant in Chicago Heights, Ill., and a 155,000-square-foot topping plant in Romeoville, Ill. The two plants employ approximately 700. The company’s headquarters will be in Romeoville.
Admir Basic has been named president and chief commercial officer of Great Kitchens, while Bill Steckel will join Great Kitchens as its chief financial officer.
Basic has been with Aryzta for nearly 10 years, most recently as senior vice president of retail. He also has worked as vice president of customer development and vice president of category management for the Americas. He began his tenure at Aryzta as commercial finance and strategy manager. Prior to Aryzta, he held several roles at Solo Cup Co., including sales planning and strategy manager and supervisor of pricing analytics.
“We are thrilled to announce the creation of Great Kitchens,” said Henk Hartong III, chairman and chief executive officer of Brynwood Partners. “We are excited to return to the private label pizza space with this new investment. Our prior investment in the private label frozen pizza space with Richelieu Foods Inc. was very successful, and we are confident in the prospects for Great Kitchens. We look forward to bringing a significant level of investment in new products and recipe innovations to our retail partners through our best-in-class facilities.”
Brynwood acquired a majority ownership in Braintree, Mass.-based Richelieu Foods, Inc. in April 2005 from the domestic and overseas private equity funds of Weiss, Peck & Greer Investments, an affiliate of Robeco USA. The investment in Richelieu Foods was sold to Centerview Partners Holdings LLC in 2010.
The divestiture of the take-and-bake pizza business represents one of the first steps in Aryzta’s plans to reshape its portfolio. On Dec. 1, the company announced plans to restructure its business model into a multi-local, lean and agile structure. The new model will be geared toward reducing complexity and overhead costs, Aryzta said. More details about Aryzta’s plan are expected to be discussed during the company’s annual general meeting scheduled for Dec. 15.
“On behalf of Brynwood Partners, I would like to sincerely thank the Aryzta team for being such great partners on this carve-out,” said Ian MacTaggart, president, chief operating officer and CFO. “This is the first deal we have done together, and we look forward to continuing our relationship.”
With the acquisition, Brynwood Partners has now acquired 56 brands from 21 different corporate sellers. Founded in 1984, Brynwood Partners makes control investments in North American-based lower middle market companies. The firm targets non-core brands or companies operating exclusively in the consumer sector. The company’s current portfolio includes Buitoni Food Co., Hometown Food Co., Carolina Beverage Group LLC and Harvest Hill Beverage Co.