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Emmy’s Organics, a family-owned maker of natural, vegan and gluten-free coconut cookies, could take on a minority investor to help it achieve scale, said co-founder Samantha Abrams.
Possibilities include both private equity and strategic investors, Abrams told this news service, with the big question being timing. Emmy’s has held preliminary discussions with several PE firms, she added.
“We’re still learning what our options are in terms of when we should take on an investor,” said Abrams, speaking on the sidelines Friday at the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, California. An investment from a strategic player would also be considered, but Emmy’s has not received those approaches, she explained.
The Ithaca, New York-based company would use private equity funds to hire a chief marketing officer, build out its sales team, launch new products and increase national distribution, she said.
Abrams, 30, said an outright sale to a strategic buyer is a longer-term exit strategy, as long as the buyer maintains Emmy’s product quality. She and her husband, Ian Gaffney, who together established the business in 2009 and are sole owners, are “in no rush” to sell.
Abrams declined to disclose financial figures for the 14-employee company, but said sales have increased between 40% and 50% each year since 2009. The company has been profitable since inception and growth has been funded through cash flow and bank loans, she said.
All 12 varieties of Emmy’s coconut cookies are organic, kosher, vegan, non-GMO and free from dairy and gluten. Its products are sold nationwide at approximately 2,500 Whole Foods Market [NASDAQ:WFM], Sprouts Farmers Market [NASDAQ:SFM], independent juice and coffee shops, and starting this year in an additional 7,500 Starbucks [NASDAQ:SBUX] locations in the US, Abrams said. More national accounts are being sought, she indicated.
The four-day Natural Products Expo West started Thursday and bills itself as the world’s largest trade event for natural brands.
The Giannuzzi Group and Lustgarten Financial Services provide legal and accounting services to Emmy’s, respectively, with M&T Bank providing commercial banking services.
by Emily Fasold in Anaheim, California
As seen in the mergermarket newsletter on 11/03/2017