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Wind Point partners with ex-Sara Lee CEO in Shearer Foods acquisition

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 29-Aug-2012

Wind Point partners with ex-Sara Lee CEO in Shearer Foods acquisition

Private equity firm Wind Point Partners has agreed to acquire Ohio-based Shearer’s Foods for an undisclosed sum – and has partnered with former Sara Lee CEO C.J. Fraleigh, who will take the helm at the private label snacks company.

Shearer’s is a major producer of private label salty snacks and claims to be the biggest producer of kettle cooked potato chips in the world, producing both private label and branded snacks for large snack food companies throughout North America. The company’s family managers, who have run the firm since it was founded in 1974, will be stepping down.

Chicago-based Wind Point Partners said that the partnership with Fraleigh will drive growth at Shearer’s, along with its experience in food investments, and the firm currently holds investments in Hearthside Food Solutions, Nonni’s, Rupari Foods and Ryt-way Industries.

Fraleigh said: “With the growth of private label brands and the trend toward outsourcing for branded food companies, Shearer’s is well-positioned to continue its historical growth trajectory. I look forward to working with the company’s 1,850 employees to execute on growth opportunities we’ve identified and continue providing Shearer’s customers with excellent service and consistently high quality products.” 

Fraleigh was most recently North American chief executive at Sara Lee. He resigned from the position in September last year, after the company reversed a decision that would have seen him run its meat unit. He has about 25 years’ experience in consumer products.

Mark Burgett, a Wind Point managing director, said: “Wind Point’s partnership with C.J. – a top caliber CEO in the food industry – along with our depth of experience with food investments, creates an excellent opportunity to drive growth at Shearer’s. We are confident that we will create value through initiatives such as introducing a proactive strategic selling effort, leveraging Shearer’s proven ability to innovate and implementing continuous improvement programs.”

The deal is expected to close in October.

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