12 December 2022
New investment for NotCo, C4 Energy, Express and Fanatics
Dealboard has a look at notable acquisition deals in ultrafast delivery, snacks and desserts.
Dealboard has a look at notable acquisition deals in ultrafast delivery, snacks and desserts.
Welcome to Dealboard. In this weekly feature, The Current is providing a look at the mergers, acquisitions and venture capital deals making waves in ecommerce, CPG and retail.
This week, there were big consumer brand investments by KDP and WHP Global, while Fanatics and NotCo added to their unicorn valuations. Meanwhile, acquisitions are shaking up categories like ultrafast delivery, snacks and dessert.
Check out the latest deals:
C4 Energy has new fuel. (Photo by Flickr user Mike Mozart, used under a Creative Commons license.)
Energy drink maker Nutrabolt received an equity investment of $863 million from Keurig Dr. Pepper (KDP) as part of a strategic partnership.
The investment will give KDP a 30% ownership stake in the maker of pre-workout brand C4 Energy, post-workout brand Xtend and sports nutrition brand Cellucor.
Through the deal, KDP will distribute C4 Energy in a majority of its direct store distribution territories, which will expand retail availability.
"This partnership represents a win-win transaction between our two companies,” KDP chairman and CEO Bob Gamgort stated. “KDP gains significant presence in the rapidly growing performance energy drink market and Nutrabolt gains access to a strategic investor with extensive sales and distribution capabilities to further accelerate its growth.”
Sports merchandising company Fanatics raised about $700 million in a new investment round that saw its valuation climb to $31 billion, Footwear News reported.
The round was led by Clearlake Capital, with participation from LionTree, as well as existing investors Silver Lake, Fidelity and Softbank.
Fanatics sells licensed sportswear, sports equipment and other merchandise. This is its second funding round of the year following a $1.5 billion raise in Q1. It also acquired jersey maker Mitchell & Ness, and sports card business Topps.
WHP Global, a firm that acquires brands, will invest $235 million into the retailer Express through a new agreement that will give WHP a 7.4% stake.
The agreement is designed to turn Express into an omnichannel platform that will acquire other brands, and form an intellectual property joint venture that is designed to scale the Express brand through domestic category licensing and international expansion opportunities.
Express’ intellectual property will be valued at approximately $400 million. It will be 60% owned by WHP and 40% owned by Express as it transforms into a platform company.
"Our partnership with WHP will drive greater scale and profitability of the Express brand through their category licensing and international expertise and strengthen our balance sheet,” said Tim Baxter, CEO of Express, in a statement. “We expect to accelerate our growth by acquiring multiple brands in partnership with WHP and operating them on our platform. Both of these are expected to drive shareholder value."
NotCo Founders Matias Muchnick and Karim Pichara.
NotCo, a food tech company, raised $70 million to extend its proprietary AI platform for product innovation of plant-based foods to CPG brands and other businesses.
The Series D1 round was led by Princeville Capital, with participation from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos through Bezos Expeditions, Tiger Global, L Catterton, Kaszek Ventures, Future Positive and The Craftory. Marcos Galperin, the founder and CEO of Latin American tech company MercadoLibre, was also among the new investors. NotCo is valued at $1.5 billion.
NotCo makes an AI platform, called Giuseppe, and has patents on tools that create plant-based foods which have similar taste, texture, functionality and smell to animal-based foods. This has been harnessed to produce food products including NotMilk, NotBurger and NotChicken.
With the new funding, the company plans to build out a B2B model that will offer Giuseppe to other CPG brands, ingredient suppliers and technology providers for innovation purposes as they create plant-based products. This was already on view through a joint venture with Kraft Heinz that develops plant-based versions of Kraft products.
Maergo, a parcel carrier serving retailers and DTC brands, raised a $20 million seed round.
The round was led by Deep Lake Capital, funds managed by investor and entrepreneur Neel Shah, and ACR Strategic Credit, with participation from RyderVentures, which is the venture capital arm of Ryder System, Inc.
Formerly known as X Delivery, the company has now completed its rebrand under the leadership of former Magento CEO Mark Lavelle. Its customers include Saks Fifth Avenue, Allbirds, Chubbies and Buck Mason.
"The high-growth ecommerce business is a major focus area for us," says Karen Jones, CMO and head of new product development at Ryder, in a statement. "With the growth of ecommerce and resulting capacity constraints, shippers are looking for more flexible parcel solutions. Through Maergo's tech-first approach to parcel delivery, they're leveraging existing capacity to offer an end-to-end solution."
Archive, a software platform that allows brands to operate resale channels, raised $15 million in a Series A round.
The financing was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, with participation from Bain Capital Ventures, Fernbrook Capital, G9 Ventures, and several minority investors. Alex Taussig, partner at Lightspeed, will join the company's board of directors.
Resale works with brands and retailers to set up resale platforms that are owned by the label. It has set up peer-to-peer, managed and in-store takeback models, as well as added custom features. Brand partners include The North Face, Oscar de la Renta, Cuyana and Dagne Dover.
With the funding, the company plans to hire across engineering and brand success.
Malk Organics, an alternative milk brand, raised $9 million in a Series B round led by Benvolio Group and Rotor Capital. Malk has a line of plant-based milks, including a recently launched chocolate oat SKU. It plans to continue growing its retail presence and its team following the funding round.
Currently, Malk is available at Instacart, Whole Foods, Sprouts, Fresh Thyme and other store stores, with plans to enter Publix in 2023.
Second Nature's portfolio is getting bigger. (Courtesy photo)
Consolidation in the ultrafast delivery market produced a big acquisition deal involving two of the biggest European names in the space.
Istanbul-based Getir acquired Berlin-based Gorillas in a deal for which terms were not disclosed.
The deal follows a pullback in investment in the quick commerce space as a result of a post-pandemic leveling of demand and fewer investment dollars as a result of economic headwinds. This has challenged the investment-heavy business models of companies in the space, which are typically spending heavily to keep delivery under an hour.
"Markets go up and down, but consumers love our service and convenience is here to stay. The super fast grocery delivery industry will steadily grow for many years to come and Getir will lead this category it created 7 years ago," says Nazim Salur, founder of Getir, in a statement.
The Ferrero Group is set to acquire Wells Enterprises, the maker of ice cream brands including Blue Bunny, Blue Ribbon Classics, Bomb Pop and Halo Top.
Wells will join a portfolio of sweet packaged foods at Ferrero that includes Nutella, Kinder, Tic Tac and Ferrero Rocher. In recent years, Ferrero has acquired Fannie May, the former Nestlé U.S. confectionery business and Kellogg’s cookies and fruit snacks businesses.
Wells will remain a standalone business. It has offices in Le Mars, Iowa, and production operations in Le Mars, Henderson, Nevada, and Dunkirk, New York. Going forward, current Wells CEO Mike Wells will become an advisor during the transition, while current Wells President Liam Killeen will become CEO, with the rest of the leadership team remaining in place. Terms were not disclosed.
Luxury design firm RH made a pair of acquisitions that will allow it to launch new divisions.
The company is acquiring Dmitriy & Co, a custom upholstery atelier. It is also hiring Dmitriy founders Donna and David Feldman. This will allow the company to create RH Couture Upholstery.
RH is also acquiring Jeup, Inc, which is another custom upholstery atelier, and hiring entrepreneur Joseph Jeup. This will allow the company to launch RH Bespoke Furniture.
In turn, the company is launching RH Media, an editorial content platform that will celebrate leaders in architecture and design. It will be led by Margaret Russell, the former editor in chief of Architectural Digest and Elle Decor.
“Today’s announcements, plus our previous acquisition of Waterworks, firmly plant four RH flags at the very top of the luxury mountain, and clearly state our intention of establishing RH as an arbiter of taste and design in the To-the-Trade, luxury home furnishings market,” said Gary Friedman, RH Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, in a statement.
Second Nature Brands, a creator of nutritional snacks and treats, acquired snack brand Brownie Brittle from Consumer Capital. Terms were not disclosed.
Second Nature Brands, which is controlled by CapVest Partners, is planning to grow into a diverse snacking platform, and the deal furthers that goal.
“We have ambitious plans to become a US leader in snacks and treats and the acquisition of Brownie Brittle is an exciting step on this journey, which expands our presence into baking and unlocks a new growth stream for us,” said Victor Mehren, CEO of Second Nature Brands, in a statement.
A key indicator of consumer demand is still running hot.
The U.S. economy continued to post job gains in May, even as the unemployment rate ticked up.
Data released for May 2023 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the following:
Employers added 339,000 new jobs this month. The gains crossed the 300,000-mark for the first time since January. That’s in line with the average of 341,000 jobs added over the last 12 months.
Retail employment remained relatively unchanged for the month.
The unemployment rate ticked up by 0.3 percentage points to 3.7%. It remains within the historically low range of 3.4%-3.7% seen since March.
Average hourly earnings rose by 11 cents, or 0.3%, to $33.44. Over the last 12 months, earnings have increased by 4.3%.
What it means for brands and retailers: The job market is a key indicator of consumer demand. If people have job stability, it means they are likely to feel more confident about spending. In the prior three months, there were signs that job gains were beginning to decelerate after months of growth over the last two years. But this report shows that the robust labor market remains intact. Even though unemployment ticked up to its highest point since October 2022, it is still historically low. When it comes to jobs, this was a bounceback month to the roaring upward trendline.
What it means for the Fed: As it has raised interest rates repeatedly over the last year in an effort to contain inflation, the Fed has focused on rebalancing the booming labor market as a key priority. This report doesn’t deliver the data that would show progress on that front, creating an environment where it could choose to raise interest rates that have the side effect of curtailing demand. Still, the Fed has maintained that it may pause the rate hikes when it meets later this month, and that option will remain on the table. The central bank has slowed down interest rate hikes in recent months, even as the labor market continued to show strength. The decision will likely be down to the wire, as key inflation data in the Consumer Price Index will arrive just as Federal Open Markets Committee members are gathering for their meeting on June 13.