Hain Celestial buys remaining EK Holdings, Empire stakes

The Hain CelestialGroup has acquired the remaining stakes of EK Holdings and its wholly-ownedsubsidiary, Empire Kosher Poultry.

The Hain Celestial Group has acquired the remaining stakes of EK Holdings and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Empire Kosher Poultry. The purchase price for the remaining approximately 80 percent of Empire was $57.6 million, which includes net debt that was repaid at closing. 

In May 2010 Empire purchased Kosher Valley, the first brand of certified kosher antibiotic-free, vegetarian fed and humanely raised all natural branded chicken and turkey products, from Hain Celestial subsidiary Hain Pure Protein Corporation (HPPC) at which time HPPC received a 19 percent interest in Empire. 

Empire offers a full range of kosher antibiotic- and hormone-free chicken and turkey products including fresh tray pack, frozen, deli, fully cooked, gluten-free and organic products in the United States as well as the Kosher Valley brand sold exclusively in Whole Foods Market.  Empire generated more than $100 million in net sales in calendar year 2014 and is expected to be accretive to Hain Celestial's earnings in fiscal year 2016. 

"We are excited with our strategic acquisition of Empire, the leading kosher, antibiotic-free poultry brand in the United States and welcome Jeff Brown and the Empire team to Hain Celestial.  Empire expands our Farm to Table product offerings, a growing category that appeals to those seeking 'the pure foods trend,' including our core natural and organic consumers. We plan to expand the product offerings into deli, fresh prepared foods and other grocery categories. Additionally, we expect to leverage our infrastructure to create revenue and procurement synergies, and we paid an attractive price considering the multiples being paid for antibiotic-free protein companies today," said Irwin D. Simon, founder, president and CEO of Hain Celestial. 

Jeffrey N. Brown, Empire’s CEO, will continue to be responsible for the day-to-day operations of Empire, reporting to Simon. Empire practices sustainable farming, promotes social justice and strictly observes Jewish dietary laws to produce among the best tasting and highest quality all-natural chicken and turkey products, the company stated. 

"Empire products appeal to a broad market of consumers, not just those seeking our brand and products to observe dietary customs. As the No. 1 kosher producer of humanely raised hormone-free and antibiotic-free poultry, I'm pleased to be able to continue the heritage of Empire under the stewardship of Hain Celestial, where we feel we can leverage opportunities to expand our distribution," said Brown. 

"Empire is a strong brand in a growing category with a lot of experience, which provides us with the opportunity to broaden our existing portfolio of organic and natural brands into healthier kosher products.  Empire should leverage Hain Celestial's knowhow and infrastructure to pursue new categories and kosher product offerings," concluded Simon.
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