Headquartered in West Chester, OH, CR Brands, Inc. (”CR Brands” or the “Company”) was founded in 2000 by Rich Owen, the Company’s President and Chief Executive Officer, to acquire strong but under-performing brands with the goal of revitalizing and growing the brands through a refocused strategic effort. Since the acquisition of Oxydol in 2000, CR Brands has grown sales and profitability by over 10x, successfully establishing itself as a manufacturer of value-based household cleaning and laundry products with national distribution and leading positions in select channels and categories.
“We engaged Sawaya Partners at a key inflection point in CR Brands’ evolution because of their experience and track record of excellence. They did an outstanding job at gaining a deep understanding of our brands and our strategy, which allowed them to effectively articulate the investment opportunity in a creative way. Their guidance and counsel during an accelerated and highly efficient process were instrumental at every point of the way and helped me and the rest of our team to realize our objectives. With the help of Sawaya Partners, we have found in Resilience Capital an ideal partner to continue to drive the success of our Company in future years.”
RICH OWEN PRESIDENT AND CEO, CR BRANDS, INC.
A 10-year veteran of Procter & Gamble (“P&G”), Rich Owen recognized a growing business opportunity to capitalize on strong but under-served brands. In the late 1990s, P&G and other multinational CPG companies began to refocus their efforts toward large and global brands while disposing of select “tail brands.” In 2000, P&G decided to divest Oxydol and Biz, two iconic brands in the US Laundry segment that enjoyed strong consumer recognition. Rich took advantage of the opportunity and successfully structured a transaction with the backing of third party investors and seller financing from P&G to purchase these two brands.
In 2002, Allied Capital, a private equity and investment firm with significant experience in the consumer sector, acquired a majority interest in CR Brands by purchasing P&G’s and other early investors’ stakes. The successful merger with ChemPro Inc. in 2006, broadened the Company’s portfolio with the addition of the hard surface cleaning brands Mean Green, Pine Power and Magnum Power. The merger also provided the Company with a leadership position in the fast-growing Dollar channel along with nation-wide distribution across all channels. In 2009, Juggernaut Capital Partners (“Juggernaut”) acquired a majority interest in CR Brands from Allied Capital. John Shulman, Founder and Managing Partner of Juggernaut, saw the opportunity of reinvesting in a business and with a management team that he had come to appreciate during his tenure at Allied Capital.
Today, CR Brands manufactures and markets a focused portfolio of affordable hard surface cleaners and laundry products with superior performance attributes that enjoy established market positions and consumer recognition in their respective categories. The Company’s strategic positioning is underpinned by a two-pronged strategy: to consistently impress consumers with premium performance at a value price and to consistently impress customers and retailers with superior service in the form of quality, reliability, speed and flexibility. CR Brands has national distribution and deep customer relationships with leading retailers including Dollar General, Family Dollar, Walmart and Kroger. The Company has also partnered with certain customers (e.g. Kroger and Publix) to manufacture a broad assortment of proprietary store brand household cleaning products.
As Juggernaut commenced fundraising for its second fund in early 2012, the decision was made to sell CR Brands and further demonstrate its track record of successful investments in the consumer sector. Juggernaut engaged Sawaya Partners & Co., LLC (“Sawaya Partners”) as its exclusive financial advisor in connection with the transaction. Sawaya Partners has leading expertise in the Household Care sector, intimate knowledge and access to strategic and financial buyers, and a track record of achieving superior outcomes for its clients.
CR Brands represented an attractive investment opportunity for both financial and strategic as a result of the Company’s strong cash flow generation, its portfolio of established brands, and its leading position in the attractive Dollar channel. As a result, the decision was made to approach a broad set of strategic and financial buyers.
Sawaya Partners worked in partnership with CR Brands’ management to develop highly customized marketing materials that clearly articulated the strengths of the Company’s portfolio, anchored by its flagship Mean Green and Biz brands, its long standing and deep relationships with key national retailers, its high and consistent levels of profitability, and its multiple upside opportunities. Emphasis was placed on CR Brands’ strength at Dollar stores, the fastest growing channel for US Household categories as the consumer shift to Value and Extreme Value has proven to be a structural and long-term macro trend in the industry. The Company’s long-standing leadership position at Dollar General demonstrated how CR Brands had developed unique insights on the formula for success in this highly attractive channel, which the Company successfully leveraged to broaden its distribution footprint across other channels. Another compelling value creation opportunity came from the ongoing repositioning of the iconic Biz brand. The clear national leader in powder Color Safe Bleach, there was material upside form leveraging the strong brand’s equity to enter adjacent categories.
The outreach effort to potential buyers began at the end of May 2012, and attracted robust interest from multiple parties, including a number of buyers that distinguished themselves by their deeper understanding of the business opportunity, their recognition of the long-term potential and their ability to rapidly and efficiently complete due diligence. By the middle of August, the Company signed a Letter of Intent with Resilience Capital Partners (“Resilience”) which provided for a short-term exclusivity period. A definitive agreement was signed on September 14, 2012, and the transaction closed on September 30.
Juggernaut had established a number of key objectives for the transaction including closing the transaction prior to September 31, finding a financial partner to support the continued growth of CR Brands, and achieving a fair value for the Company. All of these objectives were met or exceeded. The transaction was completed within four months of making the first buyer contact. Resilience is an excellent partner for the Company’s next growth phase, and while terms of the transaction were not disclosed, the sale represents a successful financial outcome for Juggernaut and will further support its track record of making successful investments.
“We are thrilled to have partnered with CR Brands in building a strong household products platform over the past several years. Our investment in CR Brands continues our strong history of successful investments into the consumer sector.”
JOHN SHULMAN FOUNDER AND MANAGING PARTNER, JUGGERNAUT CAPITAL PARTNERS
The transaction also highlights Sawaya Partners’ skill of successfully managing a broad and complex process in an accelerated time frame, while further demonstrating the Firm’s superior M&A advisory and unsurpassed story telling capabilities. Sawaya Partners successfully presented the strengths of the Company’s key brands and customer relationships while highlighting the upside potential offered by CR Brands’ positioning in the Dollar channel, the ongoing repositioning of its iconic Biz brand and the opportunities available from a broader distribution of Oxydol and its flagship Mean Green brand
“I am very excited to partner with Resilience Capital Partners in driving the next phase of growth for CR Brands. Resilience is an ideal partner for our company given its deep operating expertise and network of industry relationships.”
RICH OWEN PRESIDENT AND CEO, CR BRANDS, INC.
Resilience distinguished itself from early in the process, emerging as an ideal partner for Rich and his management team, while proving capable of sourcing financing and completing due diligence in an accelerated fashion. It also demonstrated industry knowledge and superior operational capabilities while sharing Rich’s vision to drive long-term growth by leveraging the Company’s scalable infrastructure and entrepreneurial culture.
“CR Brands has a strong track record of offering brands that deliver strong performance and exceptional value to its customers and consumers. We look forward to working with the Company’s management team to continue to develop a leading household products platform.”
JBASSEM MANSOUR CO-CEO, RESILIENCE CAPITAL PARTNERS
Besides providing Juggernaut and other current shareholders a successful financial outcome, the transaction with Resilience also represents a strong foundation for the continued future success of the Company. Resilience is an ideal partner to enable Rich and his management team fulfill the Company’s vision of creating a Value positioned one-stop-shop Laundry and Hard Surface Cleaning solution to customers and consumers alike by exploiting organic and external opportunities.
“CR Brands is a unique opportunity to acquire a leading household products platform with multiple growth opportunities. We look forward to working with its strong management team to drive growth in its well established portfolio.”
MICHAELM MERRIMAN OPERATING EXECUTIVE, RESILIENCE CAPITAL PARTNERS
Michael Merriman, Operating Partner at Resilience, is joining the CR Brands management team in a supporting role as Chairman of the Board. Formerly CEO of Royal Appliance Manufacturing Co., the manufacturer of Dirt Devil vacuum cleaners, CFO of American Greetings Corporation and CEO of Lamson & Session Corporation, Michael brings a wealth of operational and managerial expertise with deep knowledge of consumer products and relationships with key US retailers. Bassem Mansour and the rest of the team at Resilience bring CR Brands proven excellence in deal execution and management, which will be instrumental in successfully fulfilling the Company’s strategy.