CHICAGO — City Capital Ventures, L.L.C., a newly formed private equity firm based in Chicago, has made two investments signaling its entrance into the food and beverage industry. The firm said it has acquired Cookie Specialties, Inc. of Wheeling, Ill., and has taken a majority stake in Diedrich Roasters of Ponderay, Idaho.
Cookie Specialties, which makes cookies and fig bars under the Matt’s brand, has been renamed Matt’s Cookie Co. The company was founded in 1972 by Grant Pierce and has been operated under the leadership of his sons, Blake and Matt. Matt’s offers cookies in six different varieties: chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter, peanut butter chocolate chip, cranberry walnut, and chocolate chip pecan, as well as premium fig bars in assorted varieties and flavors under the Zion label. The company’s cookies are found in over a thousand grocery and retail outlets ranging from supercenters to local “mom and pop” stores.
The Pierce family is expected to continue to be involved in day-to-day operations, but Mike Halverson has been named chief executive officer of Matt’s Cookie Co.
“I’ve enjoyed Matt’s Cookies for years and was thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with the Pierce family,” said Mr. Halverson, who most recently was vice-president of sales at Schulze & Burch Biscuit Co. “Matt’s all-natural cookies and fig bars are exactly what consumers and retailers are looking for today. With over ¼-lb of real chocolate chips in every bag, Matt’s offers consumers a tremendous value. And I’ve learned that just 15 seconds in the microwave and a Matt’s cookie tastes just like they’ve come out of the oven.
“City Capital’s long-term approach will enable us to grow the Matt’s brand and leverage the Chicago heritage and latent brand equity with a broader group of consumers and retail partners. What’s more, City Capital gives us access to a robust network of C.P.G. advisers with exceptional experience and knowledge of what’s required to grow brands in today’s ingredient-conscious consumer food category.”
Grant Pierce added, “My family and I are extremely proud of our 40-year commitment to never compromise on our promise to bake the very best soft-baked cookie possible. With the expanded leadership of Mike Halverson and City Capital’s resources, more consumers will have the opportunity to enjoy our unique cookies both within and beyond our historical Midwest marketplace.”
Dan Kipp, founder and managing partner at City Capital, said Matt’s Cookie is a “perfect example” of City Capital’s goal of matching family capital with a family business.
“We believe private equity investment will continue to move toward the ‘bespoke’ approach that we employ,” Mr. Kipp said. “Our strategy of investing in businesses, often deemed too small by mainstream private equity and corporate acquirers, and supporting them with large firm strategic resources will serve our investors and operating companies well over our long-term investment horizons.”
Separately, City Capital also announced it has acquired a majority stake in Diedrich Roasters. The Ponderay-based maker of batch coffee roasting equipment will continue to operate independently under the leadership of current c.e.o. Michael Paquin.
Founded in 1980 by Stephan Diedrich, a pioneer of the specialty coffee industry, Diedrich offers proprietary roasting technology and highly crafted components. Mr. Diedrich and his wife, Becky, will retire following the acquisition.“This is a great company,” Mr. Paquin said. “I am proud to have been its c.e.o. for the past four years and look forward to continuing to build upon the strong foundation established by Steve and Becky Diedrich. With their long-term minded, private family capital and thoughtful strategic approach, City Capital is an ideal partner to help us achieve the accelerated growth and long-term success that we believe is possible.”