L Catterton to sell Ainsworth to Smucker for $1.9 bln

L Catterton has agreed to sell Ainsworth Pet Nurtition to The J.M. Smucker Company for $1.9 billion. Meadville, Pennsylvania-based Ainsworth is a pet food retailer. Update: L Catterton stands to make an 8x cash-on-cash return on the sale, with an internal rate of return of more than 70 percent, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.


GREENWICH, Conn., April 4, 2018 – L Catterton, the largest and most global consumer-focused private equity firm in the world, today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell Ainsworth Pet Nutrition (“Ainsworth”) to The J.M. Smucker Company (“Smucker”) (NYSE: SJM) for $1.9 billion. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions including receipt of required regulatory approvals.

Since investing in Ainsworth in 2014, L Catterton has partnered with the Lang family and management to drive significant growth and value creation through a strategic plan focused on marketing and operational enhancements. Together with L Catterton, Ainsworth:

· Dramatically expanded its super and ultra premium pet food offerings and positioned Nutrish®, its leading brand of all-natural dog food and treats made with simple, wholesome ingredients, as an industry leader

· Formed strategic partnerships with key retailers, expanding Nutrish® distribution in the food, drug, and mass channel by over 3x and launching the brand in the pet specialty channel

· Launched innovative new products including Dish by Nutrish®, Nutrish Peak™ and Nutrish® Treats

· Completed the acquisition of a key supplier, Triple T Foods, to secure additional capacity

· Grew Nutrish® revenue more than sixfold; and

· Drove manufacturing cost reductions and operational efficiency improvements to significantly enhance margins

“L Catterton’s extensive operational and industry expertise made them the ideal partner for Ainsworth to help transform our business,” said Jeff Watters, President and CEO of Ainsworth. “With L Catterton’s support, we implemented a strategy to invest in the premium Nutrish® brand through consumer advertising and trade programs, while driving manufacturing efficiency across the business, enabling us to achieve dramatic growth and success.”

“When we partnered with the Lang family and Ainsworth in 2014, we saw a great opportunity to help a strong brand reach its full potential,” said Scott Dahnke, Global Co-CEO of L Catterton. “Working with the Lang family and management, we were able to support the rapid growth of the Nutrish® brand through targeted marketing and advertising programs to create a market leader, while improving manufacturing and supply chain operational efficiencies. We are pleased to have participated in Ainsworth’s tremendous success. Today’s transaction represents a terrific outcome for the business, which will thrive and grow together with Smucker.”

“We have been blessed with extremely talented, hardworking people across our organization,” said Sean Lang, Executive Chairman of Ainsworth. “I am particularly proud of how, with L Catterton’s support, we were able to reach new heights while maintaining the commitment to nutrition and quality ingredients that has been at our core since my family founded Ainsworth more than 75 years ago.”

Ainsworth’s industry recognition includes Nutrish® being named the Fastest Growing U.S. Pet Food Brand in 2016 by Euromonitor International Limited. Nutrish® was also the fastest-growing brand across all consumer packaged goods categories in 2016, as tracked by A.C. Nielsen.

L Catterton has significant experience investing in the pet care and pet food space. Current and past investments include Inspired Pet Nutrition, JustFoodForDogs, Lily’s Kitchen, Nature’s Variety, PetVet Care Centers and Wellness Pet Food.

About Ainsworth Pet Nutrition
Founded in 1933, Ainsworth Pet Nutrition is a fifth generation, primarily family-owned and operated company headquartered in Western Pennsylvania and focused entirely on pets. With a goal of changing the way consumers shop for super premium pet food, Ainsworth’s mantra is “Pet Store Quality. Supermarket Easy.” They achieve this promise by providing consumers with the high-quality pet food where they currently shop for the rest of their families. The company makes multiple brands and types of dog and cat food, including the Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® line, as well as super premium retailer-specific brands. Ainsworth Pet Nutrition is committed to food safety and prepares all of its dry pet food in the United States using high-quality, natural ingredients with added vitamins and minerals. To learn more, visit www.ainsworthpets.com.

About L Catterton
With approximately $15 billion of equity capital across six fund strategies in 17 offices globally, L Catterton is the largest and most global consumer-focused private equity firm in the world. L Catterton’s team of more than 160 investment and operating professionals partners with management teams around the world to implement strategic plans to foster growth, leveraging deep category insight, operational excellence, and a broad thought partnership network. Since 1989, the firm has made over 200 investments in leading consumer brands. L Catterton was formed through the partnership of Catterton, LVMH and Groupe Arnault. For more information about L Catterton, please visit lcatterton.com.