VMG Forms Velocity Snack Brands, Buys Popchips

VMG Partners has formed Velocity Snack Brands to acquire the Popchips brand in North America and most international markets outside of the United Kingdom and Europe. The brand was acquired from Verlinvest, a consumer-focused private equity firm.

Popchips is a salty snack food company that produces and markets all-natural, popped chips in various flavors under its brand popchips. The company’s products are mainly sold in North America and in the UK, but are also available in France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

In North America, popchips are sold in over 30,000 stores including Albertson’s-Safeway, Costco, Kroger, Sprouts, Target, Walmart, Wegmans and online at Amazon. Popchips was founded in 2007 by Keith Belling and Patrick Turpin and is headquartered near Los Angeles in Playa Vista, CA.

Velocity Snack Brands (VSB) will be active acquiring, incubating and growing iconic snacking brands in order to assemble a portfolio of brands across the salty, sweet, and nutrition bar categories. Playa Vista-based VSB is led by CEO Amit Pandhi, most recently the president and CEO of Arctic Zero, a San Diego-based better-for-you frozen dessert brand. Earlier in his career he was with HGGC (formerly Huntsman Gay Global Capital) and CIBC Capital Markets.

“I’m beyond honored and grateful for this opportunity to develop and build VSB,” said Mr. Pandhi. “With popchips as our anchor acquisition, we plan to grow brands that meet consumer demand and make better-for-you food more accessible. Through the growth and development of a world-class team at our home base in Los Angeles, we expect to be the leading destination for exceptional talent, innovation and brand building excellence throughout the snacking industry.”

VMG invests in companies that are active in the food, beverage, wellness, pet products, personal care and household products sectors. Representative past and present investments include Babyganics, Mighty Leaf Tea, Pirate’s Booty, Justin’s, Natural Balance, Nature’s Bakery, Pretzel Crisps, and Vega (a complete list of VMG’s past and present investments by fund is available HERE) . The firm was founded in 2005 and is headquartered in San Francisco.

“I couldn’t think of a better starting point for VSB than the acquisition of popchips,” said Wayne Wu, general partner of VMG. “Building platforms in categories where VMG has been actively investing for nearly 15 years has been something we have been contemplating for some time and we are thrilled to kick off our first consumer products platform with popchips as a partner.

“Amit is an enthusiastic, thoughtful and detail-oriented leader who brings tremendous experience across brand building, leadership and investing. Amit’s skill set and passion will be invaluable as we build out the Velocity Snack Brands platform,” said Jon Marshall, a vice president at VMG. “The popchips brand is the perfect anchor for our platform with its strong brand awareness and broad consumer appeal amongst those seeking healthy snacks.”

Verlinvest invested in Popchips in April 2012. “We are so proud to have been a part of the popchips journey,” said Eric Melloul, a managing director at Verlinvest. “We are excited for the next chapter in the company’s life and trust that popchips will continue to grow and prosper through the VSB platform and under the leadership of VMG.”

Verlinvest is a family office for the Spoelberch and de Mévius families, part of the AB InBev control group (Anheuser-Busch and Interbrew) and among the richest families in the world. The firm makes control and non-control investments from €30 million to €150 million in private and public companies across a range of sectors including food and beverage, retail and e-commerce. Verlinvest was founded in 1995 and has offices in Brussels, Singapore and New York (www.verlinvest.be).

Barclays was the financial advisor to Popchips and Verlinvest on this transaction.

© 2019 Private Equity Professional | October 9, 2019

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