A Word with the New Owners of Noosa
The Bellvue-based yoghurt company was officially acquired in November. Now what?
Founded in 2009 by Australian expat, Koel Thomae, noosa gained a following across more than 25,000 retail national locations. The company sold its majority stake to private equity investor Advent International – which also backs Sovos Brands – in late 2014, and proceeded to triple its sales, market share and production capabilities in the years following.
Financial terms of the deal were not publicly disclosed.
Though the acquisition transaction officially closed at the end of November, for now, the plan is for noosa to continue production at its Bellvue facility.
We sat down with Renee Kopkowski, a media representative for Sovos, to discuss some of the logistics and other future intentions for the Colorado-born brand.
COLORADOBIZ: DESCRIBE NOOSA'S NEW PARENT COMPANY.
RENEE KOPKOWSKI: Sovos has signed a merger agreement under which noosa yoghurt LLC will join the Sovos Brands portfolio. … In January 2017, Sovos purchased Michael Angelo's a leading producer of premium, authentic frozen Italian entrees, and in July 2017 acquired Rao's Homemade, which produces the leading super premium pasta sauce and other Italian specialty foods.
CB: HOW WAS THE DECISION MADE TO SELL?
RK: Noosa has been part of Advent for the past four years. During that time, Advent has invested in noosa's growth, including building a new, state-of-the-art factory. Now that they've established noosa as a market leader in premium yoghurt category, they are confident the brand will be even [better] positioned for continued success with Sovos Brands.
Advent sees this transaction as a clear and logical next step for both companies. They share the same brand and customer-centric values and growth goals and the Sovos leadership team brings hands-on experience leading, developing and growing food brands.
CB: DOES NOOSA PLAN TO DEVELOP A CALIFORNIA CORPORATE PRESENCE OR POSSIBLY MOVE THERE?
RK: Sovos plans to continue to manufacture noosa products at the Bellvue facility. Sovos values noosa's unique culture and its commitment to the Colorado community through the use of local ingredients and manufacturing. The other two brands in the Sovos Brands portfolio remain in their original regions.
CB: WHAT DROVE THE DECISION?
RK: For noosa, Sovos' highly capable management team and expansive sales channels should enable continued and accelerated growth of the noosa brand. Compelling growth opportunities for noosa include expansion into new markets and geographies through the Sovos distribution platform and sales force, and extension of its products into new categories outside of spoonable yohurt.
With the addition of noosa, Sovos will play in three large, on-trend food categories – frozen, sauces and now yoghurt. The new brand will also diversify Sovos into a third temperature state, refrigerated, providing capabilities that can be leveraged across the portfolio. The acquisition will nearly double Sovos' sales, diversify the company's customer base and create a larger infrastructure that will include more than 600 employees. Each of these factors will significantly strengthen Sovos Brands and enable future mergers and acquisitions.
CB: DOES THIS MEAN FUTURE LAYOFFS OR NEW JOB OPPORTUNITIES?
RK: Sovos and noosa’s leadership will work together over the coming months to integrate. The companies are committed to the success of noosa and Sovos Brands alike.
Specifically, upon close, Darcey Macken, SVP/general manager of noosa will remain in her role and report into the Sovos Brands senior management team. Koel Thomae and Rob Graves, co-founders of noosa yoghurt, remain committed to noosa and are in discussions with Sovos on the details of their roles going forward.
CB: AS A WHOLE, HOW DOES THIS DECISION BENEFIT THE COMPANY?
RK: The addition of noosa fits perfectly with the Sovos Brands strategy to acquire premium, on- trend brands with high-quality products that have significant growth potential. The addition of noosa yoghurt expands Sovos Brands’ portfolio into the yogurt category. The purchase also complements Sovos Brands’ earlier acquisitions of Michael Angelo’s, a leading producer of premium, authentic frozen Italian entrées, and Rao’s Homemade, which produces the leading super premium pasta sauce and other Italian specialty foods. Sovos’ highly capable management team and expansive sales channels should enable continued and accelerated growth of the noosa brand.