Investcorp Buys Specialty Seafood Platform

Investcorp has closed its buy of Fortune International, a specialty distributor of seafood and gourmet food products.

Fortune distributes more than 12,000 SKUs of fresh and frozen seafood, and other gourmet foods to white-tablecloth restaurants, private clubs, grocery stores, hotels, and gourmet retail stores primarily across the Midwest. According to the company, it is one of the largest seafood and specialty food distributors in the U.S. Fortune has 370 employees and operates distribution facilities in Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri (2), Mississippi and Alabama (2), and is headquartered near Chicago in Bensenville, Illinois.

Fortune was founded in June 2001 by CEO Sean O’Scannlain, who will continue to lead the company and maintain a significant ownership stake in partnership with Investcorp. Prior to founding Fortune, Mr. O’Scannlain was the president of The Plitt Company, a Chicago-based seafood distributor, from 1995 to 2001, and executive vice president of Chicago Fish House, also a Chicago-based seafood distributor, from 1992 to 1995.

Fortune takes its name from Fortune Brothers Brewing Company, a Chicago-based brewery that was founded in 1866 by Peter Fortune, an ancestor of Mr. O’Scannlain. Fortune Brothers Brewing was one of Chicago’s first breweries and produced Fortune, Old 1871 Draught and Ruby beer until it was closed during Prohibition.

Investcorp and Mr. O’Scannlain have conservatively capitalized the company in order to continue an add-on acquisition strategy to accelerate Fortune’s geographic expansion. Fortune has been an active acquirer of other seafood distributors. Recent acquisitions include the buy of the Kansas City operations of Seattle Fish in January 2020; Alabama-based Jubilee Seafood in July 2019; Minnesota-based Classic Provisions, a distributor of specialty meats, olives, and other gourmet products in June 2019; and the St. Louis and Kansas City operations of Morey’s Seafood in April 2019.

“Specialty foodservice distribution in the United States is a highly fragmented, resilient and a growing $40 billion market,” said Dave Tayeh, the head of North American private equity at Investcorp. “We believe that Fortune is well-positioned to capture significant share with its unique platform as a scaled, specialty seafood enterprise delivering superior product quality and service across a wide breadth of products. We have a long history of partnering with founder-led businesses, and we look forward to working with Sean and his talented team over the coming years.”

“We are proud of the business we have built over nearly two decades and we are excited to embark on this next phase,” said Mr. O’Scannlain. “We are confident that Investcorp is the ideal firm to serve as our first institutional capital partner, given their deep understanding of the foodservice distribution market, alignment with our vision, and their strong track record of scaling businesses.”

Investcorp is active in alternative investments including private equity, real estate, absolute return investments, and credit management. Since founding in 1982, Investcorp has closed more than 195 private equity transactions across a range of sectors including retail and consumer products, technology, business services and industrials. Investcorp, with $31 billion of assets under management, has more than 450 employees with offices in New York, London, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Doha, Mumbai and Singapore.

Houlihan Lokey was the financial advisor to Fortune on this transaction.

© 2020 Private Equity Professional | February 13, 2020

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