DALLAS — Highlander Partners, L.P., a middle-market private investment firm based in Dallas, has acquired Kernel Season’s from VMG Partners and Brian Taylor, founder of the company. Chicago-based Kernel Season’s makes branded popcorn seasoning that is sold in more than 22,000 retailers, including mass merchants, grocery and specialty stores, as well as movie theaters in more than 30 countries worldwide.
|Jeff L. Hull, president and managing partner of Highlander and chairman of Kernel Season’s|
“This acquisition further emphasizes Highlander’s focus on investing in high-quality food companies and the C.P.G. sector in general,” said Jeff L. Hull, president and managing partner of Highlander and chairman of Kernel Season’s. “Kernel Season’s is the No. 1 popcorn-seasoning brand in the U.S. and has tremendous growth opportunities driven by innovation, new customer penetration and increased consumer awareness. In addition, we have a track record of implementing a ‘buy and build’ approach with our investments, and we see significant M.&A. opportunities that would complement Kernel Season’s product portfolio and business strategy.”
Scott Lerner, chief executive officer of Kernel Season’s, said the company will benefit from Highlander’s strong food industry expertise.
|Scott Lerner, c.e.o. of Kernel Season’s|
“The management team is energized, and our pipeline is full of new opportunities,” Mr. Lerner said. “Our brand has an exceptional consumer awareness, and we are well positioned to continue our historical success in the foreseeable future.”
Kernel Season’s product portfolio includes more than a dozen popcorn flavors, ranging from simple butter and white cheddar to garlic Parmesan and cheesy caramel corn. The company also offers popcorn oils and drizzles.
Highlander Partners has more than $2 billion of assets under management. Last spring, the firm formed Bettera Brands, L.L.C., a holding company created to execute a “buy and build” strategy in the confection and snack industry.
In connection with Bettera’s formation, Highlander acquired Gimbal Brothers, L.L.C. Founded in 1898, Gimbal’s is a manufacturer of gummy vitamins and gourmet jelly beans with distribution across North America. The company has fully integrated manufacturing capabilities, and its production facility is SQF Level 3, NSF/CFR111 certified for vitamins and dietary supplements.In addition to the acquisition of Gimbal’s, Highlander said it will fold its Hillside Candy company into the Bettera business. Hillside makes a variety of organic, sugar-free and traditional confection products under the GoOrganic, GoLightly, Hillside Sweets and Pick Your Color brands.