Greenwich, Connecticut-based private equity firm KarpReilly, acquired 100% of Zola, makers of top-selling coconut waters, acai juices, and dark chocolate covered fruit.
Zola was founded in 2002 by Chris Cuvelier with seed funding from family and friends. In 2004 Zola reportedly raised a $1 million funding round from New York-based Emigrant Capital, which remained Zola’s majority investor until its sale to KarpReilly.
The transaction will help fuel Zola’s future growth and leverage the beloved brand’s existing sales and distribution strength. Zola’s current management team will remain in place to execute a long-term growth strategy.
According to Nick McCoy, an investment banker at Whipstitch Capital who shepherded the deal, it was a fast sale. “One of the shortest deals we’ve ever done,” McCoy said according to BevNET. “It’s a well-known brand.”
“KarpReilly is the perfect partner for Zola,” said Cuvelier. “Their long term approach and track record for growing great brands will help Zola reach its full potential.”
“We like to invest in great brands and passionate people,” said Allan Karp, co-founder of KarpReilly. “Chris and the Zola team have done a fantastic job creating an amazing brand and a loyal following leveraging their great tasting products and the unique Fruits of the World brand platform. The team has some great ideas in the pipeline and we look forward to supporting them as they take the company to the next level.”
Zola recently announced new distribution and is continuously building out its footprint in natural food and conventional grocery stores across the country.
“Our expanding distribution and soon to be announced new products, coupled with this new partnership, will give us the opportunity to reach more consumers with our great tasting better-for-you products,” added Cuvelier.
“At Zola, we’re fanatical about traveling the globe in search of the best ingredients,” says the company. “From the jungles of Brazil to the beaches of Thailand, we go straight to the source. To turn the freshest fruit into the best tasting juices, we get out of the office and into the fields. We climb the trees, meet the growers, and find out for ourselves what it takes to say, this is truly the best.”
Zola’s products include Coconut Water, Coconut Water Espresso and Coconut Water with Pulp. Zola is also the maker of the fastest selling acai juices in the U.S. including Original Acai, Acai with Blueberry, Acai with Pomegranate and Acai with Mango and Chia. Recently Zola released Organic and Fair Trade Certified dark chocolate covered fruit in three flavors including Dark Chocolate Covered Acai and Blueberry, Tropical Coconut and Banana. All Zola products are available at grocery and natural food stores across the U.S. and Canada. The company is based San Francisco.
KarpReilly LLC is a private equity firm co-founded by Allan Karp and Chris Reilly. The firm specializes in management buyouts, acquisition financing, recapitalizations, and growth capital investments, making equity investments as small as $3 to $5 million – and as large as $75 million. Its typical investment holding period is 8 to 10 years. A full 30% of every KarpReilly investment involves its partners personally investing their own capital, says the company.
KarpReilly currently manages funds and affiliates with capital commitments in excess of $500 million. Over the past 15 years, the principals of KarpReilly have invested in, sat on the boards of and nurtured over 25 growth companies. The firm focuses on premier growth companies in the consumer sector within the following areas: retail, e-commerce, direct-to-consumer; restaurants; branded consumer products; apparel; food and beverage; and natural products – LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability). KarpReilly’s portfolio includes Fitlife, Burger Lounge, Café Rio, Café Zupas, Cooper’s Hawk, Eureka!, The Habit Burger, Kevita, Spindrift, Taylor Gourmet, Rue 21, Charlotte Russe and Tommy Bahama.
Emigrant Capital Corp. is the private equity division of Emigrant Bank, the nation’s largest family owned bank. The firm provides long-term equity and related capital to established middle-market businesses that can benefit from its financial, operational and strategic resources. Emigrant makes majority or significant minority investments and works closely with company managements to build value together. The firm focuses on cash flow positive companies with $2 to $12 million in historical EBITDA and will consider turnaround opportunities on a case-by-case basis. The firm is headed by Howard Milstein, chairman and CEO of the family’s business operations, including New York Private Bank & Trust Corporation (the holding Company for Emigrant Bank), Milstein Properties, and various Milstein Brothers operations in real estate development and management in New York and Chicago.