“Having a partner who looked after the people, the culture of the business, and maintained the family values was extremely important, and we found that in TorQuest”
Based in the Toronto area, Associated Brands was a TSX listed public income trust and leading North American manufacturer and supplier of private-label and contract manufactured dry-blend food. The company had long been on TorQuest’s radar given our interest in and history with the private label industry. In 2005, when the public company was looking to raise money for some much-needed capital investment, TorQuest invested in the business through a convertible debt instrument and went on the Board of Directors. The initial investment gave TorQuest unequaled insight into the business, such that when the company continued to struggle, TorQuest was well positioned to complete a take private transaction on friendly terms.
As a public income trust, the entity was incented to distribute cash to unitholders and was not making sufficient investment in production assets, product development and people. TorQuest believed that with investment, we could capitalize on the strong customer base of private label clients, and further believed that there was an opportunity to further consolidate the private label and contract manufacturing industries.
During TorQuest’s ownership, after rebuilding the management team, we consolidated three manufacturing plants into one state of the art of facility, launched several new high-volume products, and made two acquisitions, including the transformative acquisition of North American Tea and Coffee (“NATC”), a leading private label manufacturer of specialty teas and distributor of a large range of private label products in Western Canada. The complimentary product portfolio and the entry into the fast-growing specialty tea category, allowed the Associated Brands platform to grow quickly with existing customers, while onboarding a new customer base.
In 2013, TorQuest sold Associated Brands to TreeHouse Foods, a publicly listed food manufacturer, resulting in a strong return for all stakeholders.