Arbor expands in baking with New French Bakery

by Josh Sosland
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CHICAGO — Arbor Investments, a Chicago-based private equity firm, has completed the acquisition of The New French Bakery, Inc., a specialty baker located in Minneapolis.

The New French Bakery was established in 1995 adjacent to the New French Cafe, a Minneapolis restaurant that operated in the city’s Warehouse District from 1977 until 2001. Established by Peter Kelsey, the New French Bakery bakes and markets a wide range of premium take-and-bake, par-baked and fresh artisan bread sold into the in-store-bakery and food service channels well beyond the confines of the Twin Cities. Customers cited by the company include Supervalu Inc. supermarkets and the Buca di Beppo Italian Restaurant chain.

Its products include baguettes, ciabatta, breadsticks, bread and rolls and a wide range of other artisan bread varieties.

Terms of the transaction were not announced, but Arbor said it partnered in the acquisition with baking company management, led by Jeff Getzkin, vice-president of sales, as well as Michael Schultz, a baking industry veteran. Mr. Schultz held senior management positions with Best Brands Corp., a maker of laminated dough, cakes, muffins, fillings and mixes. Best Brands was acquired in 2010 by CSM Bakery Products.

“We were drawn to New French Bakery due to the company’s superior quality products and reputation in the baking industry,” said Brody Lynn of Arbor Investments. “The company has thrived under the ownership of Peter Kelsey, who was recently named Minnesota’s Small Business Person of the Year, and we are thrilled to be acquiring a business as it enters its next phase of growth.”

Mr. Kelsey said he was drawn by Arbor’s extensive experience in the food sector.

“(It) made them a perfect partner for New French Bakery, our management team, employees and customers,” he said. “I’m very proud of what we have accomplished at New French, and look forward to Arbor, with its resources and capital, building upon the foundation we have laid over the last 18 years.”
A profile of Mr. Kelsey in the Minneapolis StarTribune, published in connection with the Small Business Person of the Year Award, noted the baking company had 27 employees at the end of 1997 and has grown to 400 presently working at two Minneapolis plants. Other customers cited by the StarTribune include St. Olaf and Carleton colleges, Lunds supermarkets and Target Corp.

“We are very excited about our investment in New French Bakery,” said Gregory Purcell of Arbor Investments. “We believe that now more than ever consumers want authentic, high-quality baked goods in their neighborhood grocers’ in-store-bakery. New French Bakery’s customer loyalty is driven by this premise, as the consumer can taste the company’s differentiating product quality versus the competition.”

Established in 1999, Arbor has $600 million of assets under management across three funds. It invests exclusively or invested in over 30 food and beverage companies in North America and currently has $600 million of assets under management across the food and beverage industry. It has invested in more than 30 companies over the past 14 years, selling about two thirds of them, generally in six years or fewer.

Other Arbor portfolio companies in baking include Oven Fresh Baking in Chicago, which sells products under the Dressel’s brand, and Gold Standard Baking, which produces muffins, croissants, Danish, bread and rolls. Both companies are based in Chicago.

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