College Hill Capital Partners (CHCP), a private equity firm, in partnership with CHCP’s investors, has formed College Circle Creamery LLC (CCC). CCC will own and operate frozen dessert and novelty production facilities and manage a portfolio of brands that address growing consumer demands for more choice and "better for you" indulgences in the frozen dessert aisle.
After its formation, College Circle Creamery acquired Lukes Ice Cream, a Florida-based producer of ice cream, non-dairy frozen desserts and novelties, and co-manufacturer. Lukes has a manufacturing facility in Riviera Beach, Florida with the capabilities to make a diverse range of products, including pints, cups, foodservice tubs, sandwiches, and cones.
Joe Campbell has been named CCC's CEO, Tim Markowicz will serve as chief operating officer and Lorn C. Davis, CFA, co-founder and managing partner of CHCP, will serve as chairman of the board and strategic advisor. To ensure an effective ownership transition, Lukes’ founders Kevin and Jody Lukasiewicz will serve as special advisors for up to six months post-closing.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Building upon the Lukes acquisition, CCC, with the backing of CHCP and its investors, plans to expand its portfolio and capabilities through research and development, further acquisitions, licensing, and brand management agreements. CCC will scale its manufacturing capacity with the growth of Lukes’ operations in Riviera Beach, Fla., where it expects to double the number of employees, while also investing in additional manufacturing locations in other areas of the United States.
“For as long as I have been in the food industry, one constant has remained: consumers always find room in their budget and their bellies for indulgences,” said Campbell. “When it comes to frozen desserts, there is a clear desire for more creative ‘better for you’ choices yet there has been a lack of innovation in this space. There are many smaller brands with great products coming to market, but they have been limited by fewer resources, less experience, and mounting pressures, including rising cost pressures, increasing safety standards, and growing frozen shelf space competition, to name a few.”
“Our vision is to fill the innovation gap in frozen desserts by bringing manufacturing scale, industry expertise and financial resources together with a portfolio of unique frozen dessert and novelty brands. By doing so we are positioning College Circle Creamery in the sweet spot of a fast-growing market opportunity to deliver value for customers and consumers, including the 86% of U.S. consumers that eat ice cream at least once per week,” Campbell concluded.
Lorn Davis added: “With College Circle Creamery, we seek to catapult targeted frozen dessert brands to market at scale. Lukes is an incredible first asset to welcome to our portfolio with impressive products, great customer relationships, and exceptional manufacturing capabilities. The formation of College Circle Creamery fits squarely in CHCP’s differentiated long-term investment horizon and our focus on industries where we have deep domain experience, strategic relationships, and strong operating resources. We leverage this experience to help our portfolio companies execute on strategic initiatives, drive financial performance, and build value for all stakeholders: employees, customers, vendors, and our investors."