Hain Celestial launches Cultivate Ventures

by Monica Watrous
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DeBoles pasta, Blueprint juices, Hain Celestial
BluePrint cold-pressed juice beverages and DeBoles whole wheat and gluten-free pastas are two of Cultivate's brands.

LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y. — The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. has launched Cultivate Ventures, a strategic platform dedicated to investing in lifestyle brands, smaller portfolio brands and concepts. The company plans to incubate small acquisitions until they reach the scale for its core platforms of Fresh Living, Better-for-You Baby, Better-for-You Snacking, Better-for-You Pantry, and Pure Personal Care.

Cultivate’s brands include BluePrint cold-pressed juice beverages, DeBoles whole wheat and gluten-free pastas, GG Unique Fiber crackers made with wheat bran and whole grain rye flour, Tilda basmati rice and other grain products, SunSpire confectionery snacking and baking products, and Yves Veggie Cuisine vegetarian and vegan products. During fiscal year 2016, the wholly-owned Cultivate brands generated approximately $70 million in net sales.

Beena Goldenberg, Hain Celestial
Beena Goldenberg, c.e.o. of Cultivate

Cultivate Ventures will leverage Hain Celestial resources across marketing, sales and supply chain to refresh and relaunch its brands. In addition to her current responsibilities as chief executive officer of Hain Celestial Canada, Beena Goldenberg has been named c.e.o. of Cultivate, reporting to Irwin Simon, founder, president and c.e.o. of Hain Celestial.

“Since Hain Celestial’s inception, we have invested in health and wellness brands and concepts, giving them the infrastructure to grow,” Mr. Simon said. “We formed Cultivate Ventures to bring that legacy to our high potential brands, investing in teams with support and focus to help them thrive. Beena is now responsible for all aspects of Cultivate, including defining strategic direction, top-line revenue and profitability. Teams that include marketing, sales and supply chain functions will work with Beena to develop Cultivate and catalyze growth of the brands, along with identifying smaller acquisition and investment targets. These brands will benefit from Beena’s proven track record in growing our Canadian subsidiary — both organically and through acquisitions over the past decade.”

Yves vegetarian meals, Sunspire chocolate, Hain Celestial
Cultivate's brands also include SunSpire confectionery snacking and baking products and Yves Veggie Cuisine vegetarian and vegan products.

Looking ahead to fiscal year 2017, Hain Celestial expects the Cultivate brands to require investment and be neutral in earnings contribution. The company also said it has identified brands representing approximately $30 million in net sales that it plans to divest.

The news of Cultivate Ventures comes during a difficult time for Hain Celestial, which in August delayed the release of its fourth-quarter and full-year financial results and stated it did not expect to achieve its previously announced guidance for fiscal year 2016. This announcement sent the company’s shares into a tailspin, plunging by as much as 30%. Analysts have since downgraded Hain Celestial’s target price.

Tilda basmati rice, GG Crackers, Hain Celestial
GG Unique Fiber crackers made with wheat bran and whole grain rye flour and Tilda basmati rice and other grain products are also part of Cultivate's brand portfolio.

The delay in the filing of Hain’s financials also has muddied the waters on some major changes the company unveiled earlier this spring as it sets its sights on going from a $3 billion business to a $5 billion business. In November 2015, Hain Celestial launched Project Terra, a strategic review of the company, and in May 2016, management said one of the changes to come out of the program would be a $100 million global cost savings plan over the next two fiscal years, beginning with fiscal 2017.

Also in May, the company first announced plans to launch Cultivate Ventures, which, as Mr. Simon described the initiative at the time, is the company’s plan “to take some of our brands that haven’t been getting the love, put them in a venture group, look to the small acquisitions in the $5 million to $10 million range, use the Hain infrastructure procurement to put those through.” 
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