HANOVER, PA. — Metropoulos & Co., an investment firm specializing in iconic American brands and assets such as Hostess Brands, has made “a significant investment” in Utz Quality Foods, L.L.C., the largest independent salty snack company in the United States.
Although financial details of the transaction were not disclosed, the companies said Metropoulos’ investment is the largest initial private equity transaction for a U.S. snack company since 2013, when Metropoulos and Apollo Global Management invested in Hostess Brands. Metropoulos & Co. also has worked with such brands as Ghirardelli Chocolate, Bumble Bee Foods, Vlasic Pickles and Chef Boyardee.
“We look forward to working closely with Utz’s management team to develop creative product innovation, capture new consumers and generations of snackers with strategic guerrilla marketing and branding, and to broaden Utz distribution nationally, while enhancing overall operations and focusing on future strategic acquisitions,” said Daren Metropoulos, principal at Metropoulos & Co. “Our family is excited to be a part of Utz’s future.”
Utz said it used the Metropoulos & Co. investment to finance its $146 million acquisition of Golden Enterprises, which was finalized earlier this month. Based in Birmingham, Ala., Golden Enterprises makes snacks under the Golden Flake brand in the southern United States and is expected to generate approximately $800 million in sales during 2017. Over the past five years, Utz has made several other acquisitions, expanding its portfolio with such brands as Good Health, Bachman, Zapp’s, “Dirty," Snikiddy, Wachusett and now Golden Flake.
Utz operates 11 facilities located in Pennsylvania, Colorado, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Alabama and Florida.
|Dylan Lissette, president and c.e.o. of Utz|
“As we assessed the huge potential of our business, we considered many possible partners who we could work with to strengthen our ability to continue the momentum, help optimize and expand the frontiers of opportunity and continue our strong growth,” said Dylan Lissette, president and chief executive officer of Utz. “As we got to know the Metropoulos team and talked with many who have worked with them previously, it became clear they were not your typical investment firm. In addition to being a true family-owned firm, their expertise in operations, brand expansion, innovation, growth and acquisition integration, combined with shared family values and a passion for heritage brands, made this opportunity very unique. We are excited to continue to lead this company forward, working closely with our new partners as we enter this new chapter of Utz expansion, reinvestment and growth.”In July, Metropoulos agreed to sell a majority stake in Hostess to Gores Group Holdings, a Los Angeles-based private equity firm, for $522 million in cash. Metropoulos and Apollo Global Management are expected to retain a 42% stake in Hostess when the transaction is completed.