Labriola Baking Co. acquired by private equity fund

by Keith Nunes
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ALSIP, ILL. – Labriola Baking Co., a baker of fresh and frozen artisan breads, has been acquired by the private equity firm Plaza Belmont Fund III L.P., Shawnee Mission, Kas., and several other investors. Terms of the agreement were not announced, and the transaction does not include the Labriola Bakery Café located in Oak Brook, Ill.

Labriola Baking Co. supplies fresh artisan baked foods through its own distribution network of 25 routes to hotels, restaurants and retail stores in the Milwaukee, Chicago and Indianapolis regions.

“The rationale for the sale was to create a partnership that not only brings additional financial resources to Labriola, but extensive industry expertise as well,” said Rich Labriola, who will maintain an ownership stake in the company and serve as vice chairman and chief innovation officer. “As I have been working with Plaza Belmont to put this transaction together, I am confident I have found the right partners to accomplish the growth I envision for the company. It also helps me free up resources to allow me to continue to grow and expand the Labriola Bakery Cafes beyond the current single store location.”

Bob Parnow, president of Plaza Belmont, will serve chairman and chief executive officer of Labriola.

“We are extremely impressed with the breadth and quality of the products that Rich has created,” Mr. Parnow said. “The products are recognized by their customers as being the best available and this has allowed them to develop one of the most desired customer lists a company can have in the food business today. We are glad that Rich will continue to play an important role in the company going forward.”

Labriola’s bread line includes a range of country Italian, ciabatta, puliesi, ficelles, baguettes and other French loaves and semolina varieties. It’s sweet goods include cookies, muffins, cakes, Danish, tea breads and donuts.

Plaza Belmont Management Group has several other portfolio companies and has made various other acquisitions and exits in the food industry. They describe their strategy as seeking “companies that manufacture unique or value-added food products with efficient low-cost manufacturing processes and superior management teams,” according to their website. The company then seeks to increase the profitability of these companies and sell them in three to five years.

With this in mind, Plaza Belmont owned Mama Rosa’s Pizza, L.L.C., a manufacturer of refrigerated pizza, from October 2006 when they acquired the business from ConAgra Foods, Inc., until August 2011 when they sold the business to Huntsman Gay Global Capital. During Plaza Belmont’s ownership, Mama Rosa’s also acquired Amstar Foods.

Plaza Belmont also owned Casa de Oro Foods after a January 2004 acquisition from ConAgra Foods until August 2011 when they sold it to Gruma Corp. for $20 million.

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