During the past few years, the baking and snack industries have seen increased interest from private equity firms. In 2013, for instance, Chicago-based Arbor Investments, a private equity firm specializing in food and beverage, began work on a new entity, Rise Baking. Today, that part of Arbor’s portfolio encompasses Minneapolis-based New French Bakery; River Falls, Wis.-based Best Maid Cookie Co.; Hudson, Wis.-based Hudson Baking; and, most recently, Irvine, Calif.-based South Coast Baking, which opened its second facility in Springdale, Ark., in 2014.
Since its founding in 1999, Arbor has made numerous investments in the North American baking industry, most recently winning Buyouts Magazine’s 2016 Deal of the Year for the 2015 sale of Chicago-based Gold Standard Baking, and saw an opportunity to pursue a roll-up strategy in the cookie, crispy bar and artisan bread segments. In 2013, Arbor acquired New French Bakery, which produces par-baked and frozen artisan bread for in-store bakeries nationwide, and partnered with industry veteran Mike Schultz, now Rise Baking chief executive officer, to launch the platform.
As plans began for Rise Baking to emerge from Arbor’s investment portfolio, the company watched with a careful eye for cookie producers that would complement one another in terms of product quality, operational standards and corporate culture.
“After acquiring New French Bakery, we immediately began pursuing Best Maid, South Coast and Hudson Baking, which were all great cultural fits, and added product capabilities that our team could leverage in the in-store bakery market,” Brody Lynn, partner at Arbor Investments, told Joanie Spencer, editor of Baking & Snack, recently.
Certainly, investments by private equity firms like Arbor reflect positively on the health and vitality of the industry as well as the future prospects for baking.