Kohlberg & Company has completed its acquisition of Tyson Foods’ frozen bakery business, including the Sara Lee, Van’s, Chef Pierre and Bistro Collection brands. The new business will encompass all four brands and be called Sara Lee Frozen Bakery.
Sara Lee Frozen Bakery will be based in Oakbrook Terrace and continue operations at two manufacturing facilities in Traverse City, Mich., and Tarboro, N.C. The company plans to build a new R.&D. facility and test kitchen, including a pilot plant, co-located with the corporate headquarters. Sara Lee Frozen Bakery will employ approximately 1,300 at the headquarters and plant locations.
“Tyson Foods did a great job with this portfolio of businesses, but their primary focus was on protein,” said Craig Bahner, chief executive officer of Sara Lee Frozen Bakery. “Moving the frozen bakery products into a standalone company concentrated in the frozen bakery business will enable us to continue delivering quality products while accelerating growth, increasing innovation and achieving operational excellence.”
Mr. Bahner was previously president of U.S. Morning Foods at the Kellogg Co., and before that was chief marketing officer at Wendy’s Co. He will be joined by new president and head of sales Don Davis, who was most recently senior vice-president of sales for Tyson Foodservice.
“From this point onward, our customers will benefit from Sara Lee Frozen Bakery’s singular focus on being the frozen bakery products of choice, and we’re investing in our people, processes and infrastructure to make it happen,” Mr. Davis said.
Additionally, Jeff Gronbeck has been appointed chief financial officer. Mr. Gronbeck was most recently c.f.o. for Pittsburgh Glass Works, L.L.C., and previously held other senior financial roles at PLS Logistics Services, Fast Forward, Union Switch & Signal and Price Waterhouse.
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to breathe new life into this outstanding portfolio of brands,” said chairman CJ Fraleigh, who worked for Sara Lee from 2005 to 2011, including as its North American c.e.o. “We have assembled an exceptional management team, and our partners at Kohlberg have a long track record of success in carve outs and reemerging businesses. Together we will accelerate Sara Lee Frozen Bakery’s growth.”