Berwind Sells WellPet to Clearlake

Clearlake Capital Group has agreed to acquire Wellness Pet Food from Berwind Corporation.

WellPet is a supplier of premium pet food and treats under several brand names including Wellness, Old Mother Hubbard, WHIMZEES, Eagle Pack, Holistic Select, and Sojos. According to WellPet, it is the largest independent North America-based pet food manufacturer, producing proprietary formulations at its three facilities in Indiana, Minnesota, and the Netherlands.

The company, led by CEO Camelle Kent-Rizkalla, who will continue in her current position, has more than 400 employees with headquarters north of Boston in Tewksbury, Massachusetts.

Berwind first invested in its pet food platform through the 2007 buy of Mishawaka, Indiana-based Eagle Pack Pet Food. In 2008, Berwind added to the platform with the $400 million acquisition of Old Mother Hubbard Pet Food/Wellness Pet Food, a portfolio company of Catterton Partners. In the following years, numerous other add-ons were completed including Minnesota-based raw pet food maker Sojos in 2016 and Netherlands-based dental chew maker WHIMZEES in 2017.

“We are thrilled to partner with WellPet during such a pivotal time in the premium pet food and treats category,” said José Feliciano, co-founder and managing partner at Clearlake. “We believe the current market tailwinds, enduring increase in pet ownership, and pet humanization dynamics offer a unique opportunity to meaningfully invest behind the company and accelerate WellPet’s near- and long-term growth objectives to serve pet parents in the best possible ways.”

Clearlake invests in industrials and energy; software and technology-enabled services; and consumer sectors. The firm was co-founded by Mr. Feliciano and Behdad Eghbali in 2006 and is headquartered in Santa Monica, California with an additional office in Dallas, Texas.

In April 2020, Clearlake held a hard cap and oversubscribed final close of its sixth private equity fund, Clearlake Capital Partners VI LP, with more than $7 billion in commitments. Clearlake currently has approximately $25 billion of assets under management.

“We are excited to leverage our extensive experience investing in consumer brands, emerging food platforms, and health and wellness trends to the pet food and treats ecosystem,” added Arta Tabaee, Managing Director, Clearlake. “We believe deploying our deep bench of operating partners and our O.P.S.® value creation framework can drive accelerated growth at WellPet through best-in-class innovation, enhanced brand investment, and careful attention to the Company’s customers and retail partners.”

Philadelphia-based Berwind, founded in 1886 as Berwind-White Coal Mining Company, is a fifth-generation, family-owned investment management company that invests in middle-market companies with transaction values of $200 million to $900 million across a range of industries.

Centerview Partners was the financial advisor to Wellness Pet Food on this transaction.

© 2020 Private Equity Professional | November 19, 2020

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