Weld North, an investment company formed by former Kaplan chief Jonathan Grayer and buyout firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., has acquired a “significant minority stake” in juice and raw food marketplace Organic Avenue. Terms of the deal were not released. The investment marks the first in the health and wellness space for Weld North.
Weld North LLC, an investment company founded by former Kaplan, Inc. CEO Jonathan Grayer in partnership with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR), announced today that it has acquired a significant minority stake in Organic Avenue, a trend-setter in the vibrant organic juice and raw food marketplace. The investment marks the first in the health and wellness space for Weld North. As part of the transaction, Mr. Grayer will become Chairman of Organic Avenue. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
“We are extremely excited to begin Weld North’s expansion into the health and wellness category with this investment in Organic Avenue,” said Jonathan Grayer, Chairman and CEO, Weld North. “The organic lifestyle market is an exciting and dynamic space, with consumers spending more than $300 billion on lifestyle and health-related products in 2011. Organic Avenue, under the leadership of its current management team, has had an impressive growth story in the greater NYC market with high volume stores in key New York neighborhoods addressing an important and growing consumer. We look forward to helping Organic Avenue realize its goal to open many more new locations over the next two years and to position the company for long-term expansion.”
Grayer continued, “The health and wellness category fits our investment profile extremely well — evolving, scalable and consumer facing — and draws on our team’s brand building experience at Kaplan.”
“After six years of successful local expansion and building a loyal customer base, we were ready to take on a partner that could help manifest our vision,” said Denise Mari, Founder, Organic Avenue. “Jonathan’s unique experience, leadership skills and passion for a healthy lifestyle made him the perfect partner for Organic Avenue.”
Based in New York City, Organic Avenue pioneered its LOVE* (Live. Organic. Vegan. Experience) cleanse organic juicing and raw food plans in 2005 and created a vertically integrated line of 50 custom developed healthy product categories including organic, cold-pressed juices, soups, smoothies, salads, booster shots, gourmet entrees and desserts. The company also offers classes in food preparation, community gatherings and health-promoting retreats. Organic Avenue has eight boutiques and seasonal pop-up locations in Southampton and 3 West 57th Street at 5th Avenue in New York as well as a full-service e-commerce website.
About Weld North
Weld North is an investment company concentrating on education, health and wellness, consumer services and marketing businesses. In partnership with KKR, a leading global investment firm, Weld North seeks to make control investments in businesses with high potential for long-term growth in cash flow. With strong and highly motivated management teams, the firm looks to accelerate growth through an obsessive focus on enhancing the customer experience, operational excellence, marketing expertise, and strategic and disciplined management.