Tag: giannuzzi group

New Investments Unlock Growth Opportunities for One of the Nation’s Leading Cold-Pressured, Organic Juice and Smoothie Brands San Diego, Ca.

(August 19, 2015) – Suja Life LLC. (Suja), named the #2 Most Promising Company in 2015 by Forbes, is pleased to announce an investment and distribution partnership with The Coca-Cola Company. Coca-Cola’s minority investment will increase the availability of Suja, moving the brand closer to achieving its mission of democratizing organic, cold-pressured juice. The Coca-Cola Company will also begin distributing Suja through the Odwalla chilled direct store delivery system. In addition, the Merchant Banking Division of Goldman Sachs has made a minority investment in Suja. The closing of these deals provides Suja with the expertise and accessibility to further increase product distribution and operational efficiencies, as well as the ability to expand its manufacturing facilities to increase capacity in response to growing demand.

Suja Juice family

“When we started our home-delivery juicing company in San Diego about three years ago, we couldn’t have imagined the incredible growth and consumer demand that we face today,” said Jeff Church, CoFounder and CEO of Suja. “As we continued to innovate and find ways to democratize juice, we soon realized that for us to take the business to the next level in providing organic, cold-pressured juice to even more people, we needed to find the correct strategic partners. As these new partnerships begin, nothing will change in Suja’s promise to its fans: our juice will always be organic, non-GMO, coldpressured, and free of any additives.”

Suja has experienced unprecedented growth in the natural foods and conventional channels, quickly rising in ranks to become one of the most popular cold-pressured juice brands in the country. However, since day one, the company’s mission remains the same as it is today – to democratize the best quality juice, with the goal of getting organic, non-GMO, cold-pressured juice in the hands of as many people as possible. The brand’s first step in realizing this mission was the launch of Suja Essentials™ – the first USDA organic, non-GMO, cold-pressured juice available for less than $4. In Suja’s second step toward completing their brand mission, they realized the need to partner with a large and expert organization like The Coca-Cola Company to help provide additional support, specifically as it pertained to distribution, efficiencies and capacity expansion.

“Suja’s commitment to excellence in its beverages, operations and mission has positioned it as a leader in the rapidly-growing organic juice segment,” said Mike Saint John, President, Value Added Dairy and Natural Health Beverages, Coca-Cola North America. “This, coupled with the resources of The Coca-Cola Company including our unmatched distribution system, will expand availability of this delicious beverage. Suja’s great-tasting, organic juice will nicely complement our broad portfolio and expand it further to meet people’s beverage needs.”

The benefits of the partnership with The Coca-Cola Company and the Merchant Banking Division of Goldman Sachs will quickly be evident to consumers as they begin to see Suja in even more places. Behind-the-scenes, Suja will continue to innovate and push boundaries within the health & wellness space while remaining committed to its promise to consumers. Suja’s juices and smoothies will always be USDA Certified Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified, and will always be cold-pressured using High Pressure Processing to kill any harmful bacteria and preserve maximum nutrition and taste. Suja will never compromise on the quality of its ingredients, delivering convenient nutrition in each and every sip, and all juices and smoothies will be free of artificial and natural flavorings, preservatives, additives, and artificial ingredients. Throughout this all, Suja remains thankful to their loyal fans who have consumed over 40 million bottles since the brand launch.

Piper Jaffray & Co. was the advisor to Suja and the sole advisor on the transaction. The Giannuzzi Group, LLP served as legal counsel to Suja through the transaction and continues to be the company’s legal counsel.

About Suja Juice Co.

Suja Juice™ began from a shared dream to help people transform their lives through conscious nutrition. The three handcrafted lines of cold-pressured juices, Suja Classic™, Suja Elements™ & Suja Essentials™ are Certified Organic and verified Non-GMO by the Non-GMO Project. All juices and smoothies are coldpressured using High Pressure Processing (HPP) to kill any harmful bacteria and preserve maximum nutrition and taste. Suja revolutionized juice with the launch of Suja Classic™ the company’s original cold-pressed juice line. Suja Elements™ are juices with a purpose. For every bottle purchased, 20¢ – 25¢ is donated to an important social or environmental cause through the Suja Elements Cause Collective™. In 2014, Suja introduced, Suja Essentials™ – the first USDA organic, non-GMO, cold-pressured juice available for less than $4. With a wide range of cold-pressed organic offerings, Suja™ has a juice for every lifestyle. Suja can be purchased at grocery, natural and mass stores nationwide and through SujaJuice.com, and Amazon.com. For more information on Cold-Pressure Technology, please visit www.ColdPressured.Org

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SujaJuice

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sujajuice

Instagram: @lovesuja

 

SOURCE: BevNET 

Aug 7, 2015

 

WhiteWave Foods has announced the acquisition of Wallaby Yogurt Co. in a $125m deal.

 

Wallaby is a manufacturer and distributor of organic dairy yogurt products that include Greek and Australian yogurts and Kefir beverages. It had sales of more than $45m for the year ended June 2015.

 

“The addition of Wallaby will strengthen and expand WhiteWave’s growing yogurt portfolio and provide entry into several fast-growing yogurt categories. The acquisition also provides WhiteWave with West Coast based yogurt manufacturing capabilities and other expansion and growth opportunities,” WhiteWave said in a statement.

 

The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2015.

 

WhiteWave increased its sales and full year earnings per share guidance today, on the back of higher reported net sales and profits during the second quarter.

Janica Lane of Piper Jaffray acted as financial adviser and the Giannuzzi Group of New York acted as legal counsel to Wallaby Yogurt Co.

Chia-based food and beverage company helps to drive market through quality and community

November 12, 2014
Trans

If you ask Janie Hoffman how chia has impacted her life, you’ll notice her face light up with excitement as she shares what those little seeds have done for her health and well-being and why she wanted to share that same passion with a broader community.

Hoffman notes that when she first fell in love with chia, there were no chia seed beverages on the market and it also was challenging to locate chia seeds at retailers — especially organic chia. Although she does not have a food and beverage background, Hoffman’s dedication to share the benefits of chia with the masses led not only to the birth of Carlsbad, Calif.-based Mamma Chia but also to the broader chia beverage category.

“I created Mamma Chia truly because of my desire to spread the love and magic of chia, [but] I have to say, not coming from a food and beverage background, there were a lot of folks that thought this was quite bold,” the founder and chief executive officer explains. “It’s very gratifying for me that we were able to not only create the first-to-market chia beverage but also to create a whole new category. I would like to think that we set the bar really high.”

Originally launched in October 2010 within select retailers in Southern California, Mamma Chia’s Vitality Beverages are U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) certified organic, Non GMO Verified and certified kosher. “Our products adhere to really rigorous standards,” Hoffman says. “We only use certified organic chia that is 99.9 percent clean, and it has to be a very, very high quality of chia. Honestly, if it’s not a very high quality of organic chia, it doesn’t perform well in our beverages.”

Approximately four years later, Mamma Chia now is national and has added new varieties to its Vitality Beverage line, launched Chia Squeeze snacks, released bagged chia seeds, debuted a Clean Energy line of beverages and announced the development of its chia bars. Through all of these product extensions, Hoffman adds that it is important that Mamma Chia maintain its commitment to quality and the community that supports them in order to continue to be a leader in the chia food and beverage market.

“We are providing delicious, nutrient-dense, chia-based products,” she says. “I think our leadership comes not only from being first but from our commitment to quality as well as our commitment to our community. We have a very big giveback program that you don’t see very often, especially from a young brand. We give 1 percent of our gross sales to environmental organizations and local food systems. And as everyone knows, 1 percent of gross sales is a significant amount of money, and to commit to that from day one and be held accountable to that is something that I think demonstrates that we mean it. We’re committed to our mission to be conscious leaders in sustainability and social causes.”

Providing vitality

Although Mamma Chia has brought organic chia seeds to the masses, Hoffman’s particular interest in chia came from first-hand experience. “Chia changed my life,” she explains. “After struggling for almost 20 years from a variety of debilitating autoimmune disorders, and after years of trying numerous diets and medical treatments, it was only when I was introduced to chia and switched to an organic diet that I finally went into remission. After seeing what this amazing little seed did for me in my life, it became my mission to share its magic with the world.”

That mission and the seed’s entry into the beverage industry started with Mamma Chia Vitality Beverages. “Intuitively, I thought that our very first product had to be our beverages,” Hoffman says. “I wanted them in these beautiful glass bottles so you could see the chia seeds suspended in our gem-colored organic fruit juices. I thought they would be magnetic on the shelf. I also thought, because there was nothing else like it on the market, it would be very disruptive and get a lot of attention and would prove to be an incredible showcase for the chia seed.”

Available in nine SKUs, Mamma Chia Blackberry Hibiscus, Cherry Lime, Coconut Mango and Raspberry Passion flavors are the biggest crowd pleasers, Hoffman notes. The company retooled the lineup within the past year by replacing two varieties with Strawberry Lemonade and Pineapple Coconut.

“Strawberry Lemonade has a wonderful, familiar, traditional taste, while our new Pineapple Coconut flavor has a tropical, exotic flavor,” she explains. “Both were unlike any of our existing flavors yet complemented them perfectly. Both of the new Mamma Chia flavors are doing very well. We still have some work to do to get the word out as well as gain additional distribution, but that seems to always be the name of the game with new products.”

Although the Vitality Beverages have seen their fair share of success in the market, Hoffman has not forgotten the journey it took her to get them there.

“Little did I know in the beginning that my kitchen recipes would be so challenging to produce on a large scale,” she says. “In fact, we had one disastrous test run after another. I was even told that it couldn’t be done. But I am a tenacious soul, and I was determined to make it happen.

“Learning how to work with the chia seeds to ensure they were evenly dispersed throughout the beverage took a lot of trial and error, but it was the key to a consistent product that was as beautiful as it was delicious,” she continues. “Thankfully, we stuck with it, and now we have not one but two beautiful beverage lines and a patent-pending process to boot.”

Those test runs and lessons have proven valuable to Mamma Chia as it expands not only its beverage offerings but food products. “Now that we’ve grown, we have the ‘luxury’ of creating new product lines and extensions,” Hoffman explains. “Sometimes it can be challenging because you want to get a product to market quickly — especially when there’s a strong retail and consumer demand — but we keep going back to our early days and remembering that we have to believe a product is 100 percent ready before we’ll put it out on the market.

“Sometimes that means going back to the drawing board,” she continues. “With several successful line extensions now under our belt, that early key learning is one that’s continued to serve us well all these years.”

That tenacity to have 100 percent confidence in its new products was a key component to the development of the brand’s latest beverage line: Mamma Chia Clean Energy. The USDA Certified Organic Clean Energy line is available in four flavors — Blackberry Blast, Raspberry Razz, Grape Power and Cherry Charge — and derives its energy source from Fair Trade guayusa, a naturally caffeinated plant from the holly tree genus. Like the Vitality Beverages, the new products also contain 2,500 mg of omega-3s from the organic chia seeds.

“So many consumers turn to massive coffees and chemical-laden energy beverages to give them a lift,” Hoffman notes. “We saw a void in the marketplace for a truly healthful energy drink, which is what we’ve developed. It offers all the nutritional benefits of our Vitality Beverages, plus the natural energy source of guayusa.”

Hoffman first learned about guayusa before she launched Mamma Chia and was impressed with the synergies it had to chia. “Similar to chia, guayusa has an ancient pedigree, having been part of the Amazonian culture for more than 2,000 years,” she says. “We chose it because it delivers balanced, sustained energy without the jitters and crashes typically associated with other sources of caffeine.”

Guayusa also offers a mellowness that isn’t bitter or overpowering, Hoffman explains. But most importantly, guayusa aligns with Mamma Chia’s values to offer organic products. “We said, ‘If we’re doing [an energy line], it needs to be organic and Fair Trade,’” she says. “Guayusa was Fair Trade and organic and sustainably sourced, so that’s why it was chosen. We knew we were going to do an energy line, but we didn’t know exactly when we were going to make that happen, so everything just came together — all the stars aligned with this one.”

Hoffman notes that the drinks are designed for anyone looking to add a nutritious boost to their day, including athletes such as runners, cyclists, yogis or any other athletic activity. “Mamma Chia Clean Energy drinks are a super healthy way to start the day as well as the perfect afternoon pick-me-up,” she adds.

Like the Vitality Beverages, Clean Energy’s four SKUs are merchandised in the cold case at retailers. Although the company is pleased that the four initial flavors complement its core line and work well with the combination of chia and guayusa, it will consider expanding the lineup when the timing is right. However, the company does not have a specific timeline for that, Hoffman notes.

Meeting the customer’s needs

As Mamma Chia continues to grow its business and portfolio, the company also is tasked with ensuring that it remains connected to the wants and needs of the variety of distributors and retailers that it serves.

“At Mamma Chia, we believe in providing a distribution solution that best meets the needs of our customers,” Hoffman says.

Because different customers have their own preferences of distribution — direct, direct-store delivery (DSD) or distributor — Mamma Chia works with a variety of models. “We have relationships with the majority of wholesale distributors that service the natural, specialty and conventional channels, which enables us to service the vast majority of retailers,” Hoffman explains. “We also have been building relationships with numerous DSD distributors to help service those accounts that prefer the full-service aspect of DSD, as well as help service our [up and down the street] (UDS) and independent account bases.

“Additionally, we have many accounts that prefer the option of going direct, which we support as well,” she continues.

Whether it’s retailers or distri-butors, Mamma Chia’s goal is to support all of its partners to help drive sales performance through a number of different avenues, Hoffman notes.

“This [support] can come in the form of promotions, in-store merchandising support, demos, social media callouts and point-of-sale and merchandising shippers as well as the marketing and PR that Mamma Chia does in the regions to build trial and awareness to drive consumers back to our customers’ stores,” she says. “We also support our distributors with annual promotional calendars to allow them to offer specials to their customers, support their trade events and partner with their sales forces to help solicit new business for Mamma Chia. Building delightful and successful relationships is one of our core values at Mamma Chia.”

Although Mamma Chia is available nationally at a variety of chains, including Whole Foods Market, Safeway, Target, Kroger, HEB, Wegmans and Sprouts, the chia-based company has a global vision in mind for its future.

“At Mamma Chia, our vision is to be a beloved global brand and make our products available within arm’s reach of our customers,” Hoffman says. “We are focused on expanding distribution to the retailers and classes of trade that reach our targeted consumers as well as help us introduce our products to new users. We are experiencing great success as we expand into new targeted areas and classes of trade, and we are enjoying great acceptance from new users of the brand.”

Giving back

Mamma Chia has experienced notable success in its four-year history, and it also has made sure that a charitable nature is part of its core values from day one.

“There are a lot of traditional business folks that would never have a philanthropic giveback program until there was profitability, but we believe that giving back is what we should all be doing throughout the entire process, and it may be one of the reasons why we are a profitable company today,” Hoffman says.

Among those give-back initiatives is Mamma Chia’s membership with Certified B Corporation (B Corps), a global movement campaign to redefine success in business by meeting higher standards of transparency, accountability and performance.

The company also is a member of 1% for the Planet (1% FTP), which is a global movement of companies that donate at least 1 percent of annual sales to environmental organizations. “As a conscious and sustainable company that is committed ‘to honor and uplift both the soul of humanity and the soul of the planet,’ 1% FTP is a clean way to ensure that a company is truly giving back and practicing what they preach,” Hoffman explains.

Much like how Hoffman and Mamma Chia have taken a leadership role in the chia-based food and beverage market, the company is doing the same with its philanthropic initiatives as a founding member of the Slow Money Alliance. “Slow Money is a nonprofit organization and movement that supports and guides investments into small and local food systems and enterprises,” Hoffman says. “Its mission is to bring money back down to earth and encourage new ways of thinking about the relationship between food, money and our planet. Mamma Chia donates 1 percent of our gross sales to support healthy, local food systems.”

Hoffman says that she would love to see a shift in the old paradigm from that of accumulating wealth before being charitable to one that embraces giving back along the way. “I think it’s so important that Mamma Chia maintain our leadership within the chia category, not only to see the bar raised for more organic and conscious companies [but also for] more conscious capitalism and more of this paradigm shift in philanthropy,” she says. “I feel like this is the moment in time when we all need to roll up our sleeves and make a difference in the world, and it can’t just be during our off hours.

“It has to be what we’re doing in our everyday lives, so we need conscious souls and conscious companies at our local level as well as those medium-size companies, large companies and even our multi-national companies,” she continues. “[We need to] have conscious souls and conscious brands contributing to the greater good.”

Beyond beverages

Mamma Chia organic

With two chia-based beverage lines in its portfolio — Vitality and Clean Energy — Mamma Chia, Carlsbad, Calif., has created and led the chia beverage market. However, Janie Hoffman, founder and chief executive officer of Mamma Chia, knew that there was much more she could share about chia beyond beverages.

As a follow-up to its Vitality Beverages, Mamma Chia launched its Chia Squeeze snacks, which each contain 1,200 mg of omega-3s and are packaged in flexible pouches. The company also offers organic black and white chia seeds for at-home food and beverage preparation and announced at this year’s Natural Products Expo East that it is finalizing development of its Mamma Chia Vitality Bars.

But Hoffman isn’t just enlightening consumers about chia seeds through consumer packaged goods, she also has published two books this year on the topic of chia. Her first book, “Chia Vitality,” is a lifestyle book, and on Sept. 30 she released “The Chia Cookbook.”

“It is my mission to share the ‘magic of chia’ with the world, and the books have given me another platform from which to do that,” Hoffman says. “It’s been an amazing journey. I’m constantly approached by beautiful souls who want to share their personal stories with me. It’s truly inspiring. Part of the Mamma Chia mission is to spread the love of chia, and these two books are instrumental in educating people on chia as well as furthering Mamma Chia’s leadership in the world of chia.”

Launch of STK Rebel Represents Next Phase of Company’s Growth Platform

Restaurant Projected to Open in 2015

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

The ONE Group Hospitality, Inc. (“The ONE Group”) (STKS) today announced that it has completed an agreement to open an STK Rebel in Denver. STK Rebel maintains the unique features, vibe and energy of STK, with a menu and price point targeted to a broader national and international market. The venue is expected to open in 2015.

The new STK Rebel will be located at 16th and Market in the heart of the popular LODO district of Denver. The restaurant is situated in a brand new mixed use building developed by Integrated Properties, Inc.

“The launch of STK Rebel is a milestone for The ONE Group, and we are thrilled to be bringing this concept to the Denver market,” said Jonathan Segal, CEO of The ONE Group. “STK Rebel reflects an expansion of our STK brand that will provide a more accessibly priced option for guests across the country, while offering the same innovative culinary features, energy and vibe dining experience that has driven the success of STK. We are extremely excited for the STK brand to become part of the Denver community.”

“The ONE Group has been built on a foundation of innovation and reinvention – and STK Rebel is the next step in this evolution,” Segal continued. “Our development pipeline is tracking at the pace we have been communicating to the investment community since we went public, and STK Rebel will be a key element of our growth strategy moving forward as we expand our presence both in the US and abroad. We look forward to sharing more updates soon.”

The ONE Group will host a conference call to discuss third quarter 2014 financial results on Thursday, November 13, 2014 at 5:00 PM Eastern Time. Hosting the call will be Jonathan Segal, Chief Executive Officer, and Sam Goldfinger, Chief Financial Officer. A press release containing the third quarter 2014 financial results will be issued after market close Thursday, November 13, 2014.

 

The conference call can be accessed live over the phone by dialing 877-407-3982 or for international callers by dialing 201-493-6780. A replay will be available after the call and can be accessed by dialing 877-870-5176 or for international callers by dialing 858-384-5517; the passcode is 13593354. The replay will be available until December 13, 2014.

About The ONE Group

The ONE Group is a global hospitality company that develops and operates upscale, high-energy restaurants and lounges and provides hospitality management services for hotels, casinos and other high-end venues both nationally and internationally. The ONE Group’s primary restaurant brand is STK®, a modern twist on the American steakhouse concept with locations in major metropolitan cities throughout the U.S. and in London. STK Rebel SM, a more accessibly priced STK ® with a broader menu, is an extension of the STK ® brand. The ONE Group’s food and beverage hospitality services business, ONE Hospitality SM, provides the development, management and operations for premier restaurants and turn-key food and beverage services within high-end hotels and casinos. Additional information about The ONE Group can be found at www.togrp.com.

Cautionary Statement on Forward-Looking Statements

This press release includes “forward looking statements” within the meaning of the “safe harbor” provisions of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements may be identified by the use of words such as “anticipate”, “believe”, “expect”, “estimate”, “plan”, “outlook”, and “project” and other similar expressions that predict or indicate future events or trends or that are not statements of historical matters. A number of factors could cause actual results or outcomes to differ materially from those indicated by such forward looking statements, including but not limited to, (1) the ability to recognize the anticipated benefits of the business combination, which may be affected by, among other things, competition, our ability to open new restaurants and food and beverage locations in current and additional markets, grow and manage growth profitably, maintain relationships with suppliers and obtain adequate supply of products and retain our key employees; (2) factors beyond our control that affect the number and timing of new restaurant openings, including weather conditions and factors under the control of landlords, contractors and regulatory and/or licensing authorities; (3) changes in applicable laws or regulations; (4) the possibility that The ONE Group may be adversely affected by other economic, business, and/or competitive factors; and (5) other risks and uncertainties indicated from time to time in our filings with the SEC, including our Annual Report on Form 10-K filed on April 1, 2014.

Investors are referred to the most recent reports filed with the SEC by The ONE Group Hospitality, Inc. Investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance upon any forward looking statements, which speak only as of the date made, and we undertake no obligation to update or revise the forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.

 

Contact:
Media Contact:
Sloane & Company
Dan Zacchei or Kate Traynor, 212-486-9500
or
Investor Contact:
ICR
Don Duffy or Sheryl Freeman, 203-682-8200

Engredea News & Analysis
MetaBrand Capital | Engredea News & Analysis

October 7, 2014

 

MetaBrand Capital, a “conscious capital” private equity fund and the new investment pillar of MetaBrand—a full-service firm providing product formulation, outsourced operations, and sales and marketing services to natural, organic and nutritional food and beverage brands—announces a $5.75 million investment in Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Runa LLC, supporting the growth of the natural, “healthy energy” food and beverage category utilizing the Amazonian guayusa tree-leaf.

Taking the Triple-Bottom Line approach to corporate social responsibility one step further, MetaBrand founder and longtime natural products entrepreneur Eric Schnell embraces the “Quadruple Bottom-Line,” a socially and environmentally aware business philosophy dedicated to People, Planet, Profit—and Purpose. Through the MetaBrand Capital fund, the company will primarily focus on growth capital investments in the food, beverage, nutrition and natural and organic product industries with strategic partners that embody and embrace a similar socially conscious business approach.

“This is the first major investment for MetaBrand Capital,” says Schnell. “Runa represents all the criteria that we see in the Quadruple Bottom-line business model. MetaBrand has previously partnered with Runa in helping to pioneer the ‘healthy energy’ beverage category, and this strategic partnership allowed us to see that Runa truly is a perfect example of what a conscious capital investor cares about—fair trade, organic and natural, socially responsible with a strong moral obligation to give back. We absolutely believe in Runa’s authentic story, vision and potential for the brand. The investment was the natural progression of our commitment to their mission.”

Other notable investors joined MetaBrand Capital in the round, including Mark Rampolla, founder of Zico; and Brian Krumrei, managing director, TSG Consumer Partners; plus investors from the music and entertainment industry including Jon Fishman, drummer for the band Phish, and Coran Capshaw, founder of artist management company Red Light Management. Nick Giannuzzi, attorney, The Giannuzzi Group, LLP, represented Runa in the deal.

Guayusa, cousin to yerba mate, leads ‘healthy energy’ beverages
Runa, cofounded in 2009 by college classmates Tyler Gage and Dan MacCombie, is a privately held company that sells beverages made from guayusa (pronounced “gwhy-you-sa”) leaves. Guayusa is a native Amazonian super-leaf with as much caffeine as a cup of coffee and double the polyphenols of leading green tea products. Unlike traditional teas, guayusa has no tannins, so it tastes surprisingly smooth and naturally sweet. Indigenous peoples in the Ecuadorian Amazon have brewed guayusa like tea for thousands of years as an essential part of what makes them “Runa”—fully alive.

With a mission to improve the livelihoods of indigenous farmers in the Amazon, Runa’s founders believe that consumers everywhere can benefit from the bounty of the rainforest without destroying it, starting with the people who live there. Runa works directly with more than 3,000 indigenous farming families who are proud to see guayusa shared around the world. These families are Runa’s partners in a Fair Trade relationship, and by organically growing guayusa in traditional forest gardens they help protect the rainforest.

“We’re anticipating strong multi-category growth of the guayusa ingredient, and we’re truly excited to work with the powerhouse MetaBrand team in our efforts to become a leading brand and ingredient platform in the organic, specialty and conventional markets,” says Gage. “With this new investment, we plan to increase our support of the distributors and retailers that have helped us build our brand so far, and go deeper in key markets where Runa is growing. We are committed to being focused and targeted with our sales growth, and are excited to educate more consumers about the benefits of guayusa and the spirit of the Runa brand.”

“Runa has successfully pioneered and established a clear market demand for guayusa as a unique ingredient,” says Debbie Wildrick, MetaBrand chief advisory officer. “The company has emerged as one of the fastest growing certified organic and natural ready-to-drink brands in the U.S., and we see the opportunity for guayusa as an ingredient to have useful applications in a range of healthy products—from beverages to dietary supplements. We see guayusa as the next green tea trend, and look forward to helping Runa define clear sales and distribution strategies across food, drug, mass and convenience store channels.”

 

Business Wire

The ONE Group Hospitality, Inc.
September 23, 2014 8:00 AM

 

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

The ONE Group Hospitality, Inc. (“The ONE Group”) (STKS) today announced that it signed a hospitality services agreement with Pebblebrook Hotel Trust to provide food and beverage services at W Los Angeles – Westwood in Los Angeles, California, beginning in the fourth quarter of 2014. In addition to providing pool side restaurant and hospitality services at the hotel, the Company will open an STK restaurant in 2015.

“We are excited to announce our collaboration with Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, which marks a significant milestone for our Company. We are looking forward to leveraging our restaurant and hospitality expertise to bring guests at W Los Angeles the truly unique and cosmopolitan experience that they have come to expect from both us and the W Hotels brand. As an innovative luxury lifestyle brand, W Hotels combines a unique blend of cutting-edge design with glamorous entertainment experiences to provide renowned accommodations for the most contemporary and refined travellers, which we view as a synergistic fit with our core customer.” said Jonathan Segal, CEO of The ONE Group.

Segal continued, “This announcement follows our recent agreements with Meliá Hotels International for the new ME Miami, will include the operation of an STK Rebel, as well as the ME Milan Il Duca, both of which are scheduled to open in 2015. We are excited about the robust development pipeline that we are building for our Company and for our shareholders.”

About The ONE Group

The ONE Group develops and operates upscale, high-energy restaurants and lounges and provides ONE Group Hospitality, a turn-key food and beverage service for hospitality venues including boutique hotels, casinos and other high-end locations both nationally and internationally. The ONE Group’s primary restaurant brand is STK. STK is a unique steakhouse concept with locations in major metropolitan cities throughout the U.S. and in London. STK artfully blends two concepts, the modern steakhouse and a chic lounge, into one offering a high-energy, fine dining experience with the superior quality of a traditional steakhouse. STK Rebel offers the same vibe-driven steakhouse with a slightly broader menu targeting both lunch and dinner guests at a more accessible price point. Additional information about The ONE Group can be found atwww.togrp.com.

About Pebblebrook Hotel Trust

Pebblebrook Hotel Trust (PEB) is a publicly traded real estate investment trust (“REIT”) organized to opportunistically acquire and invest primarily in upper upscale, full-service hotels located in urban markets in major gateway cities. The Company owns interests in 31 hotels, including 25 wholly owned hotels, with a total of 6,046 guest rooms, and a 49% joint venture interest in six hotels, with a total of 1,775 guest rooms. The Company owns, or has an ownership interest in, hotels located in ten states and the District of Columbia, including: Los Angeles, California (Hollywood, Santa Monica, West Hollywood and Westwood); San Diego, California; San Francisco, California; Miami, Florida; Buckhead, Georgia; Bethesda, Maryland; Boston, Massachusetts; Minneapolis, Minnesota; New York, New York; Portland, Oregon; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Columbia River Gorge, Washington; Seattle, Washington; and Washington, DC. For more information, please visit us at www.pebblebrookhotels.com and follow us on Twitter at @PebblebrookPEB.

Cautionary Statement on Forward-Looking Statements

This press release includes “forward looking statements” within the meaning of the “safe harbor” provisions of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements may be identified by the use of words such as “anticipate”, “believe”, “expect”, “estimate”, “plan”, “outlook”, and “project” and other similar expressions that predict or indicate future events or trends or that are not statements of historical matters. A number of factors could cause actual results or outcomes to differ materially from those indicated by such forward looking statements, including but not limited to, (1) the ability to recognize the anticipated benefits of the business combination, which may be affected by, among other things, competition, our ability to open new restaurants and food and beverage locations in current and additional markets, grow and manage growth profitably, maintain relationships with suppliers and obtain adequate supply of products and retain our key employees; (2) factors beyond our control that affect the number and timing of new restaurant openings, including weather conditions and factors under the control of landlords, contractors and regulatory and/or licensing authorities; (3) changes in applicable laws or regulations; (4) the possibility that The ONE Group may be adversely affected by other economic, business, and/or competitive factors; and (5) other risks and uncertainties indicated from time to time in our filings with the SEC, including our Annual Report on Form 10-K filed on April 1, 2014.

Investors are referred to the most recent reports filed with the SEC by The ONE Group Hospitality, Inc. Investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance upon any forward looking statements, which speak only as of the date made, and we undertake no obligation to update or revise the forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.

 

Contact:
Investors:
ICR
Don Duffy or Sheryl Freeman, 203-682-8200

STK Chicago will be The ONE Group’s 10th Location

The ONE Group

 

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

The ONE Group Hospitality, Inc. (“The ONE Group”) (STKS) today announced that it has signed a lease for a new STK in Chicago in 2015.

“We are very excited about launching the STK brand in Chicago. We’re confident that STK’s unique blend of innovative menu, vibrant lounge scene and high-energy atmosphere will resonate well with those consumers looking for a modern fine dining steakhouse destination,” said Jonathan Segal, CEO of The ONE Group.

The new STK Chicago will be over 13,000 sq. ft. and will be located in the heart of River North at 360 North State Street. River North is one of Chicago’s top neighborhoods for dining and nightlife and is a prime destination for restaurants, nightclubs and entertainment venues. The River North area includes a large concentration of art galleries and is close to some of the top hotels in Chicago. The area has experienced residential development and population growth over the last several years.

“Our development pipeline is filling up nicely and is consistent with the growth strategy we articulated to the investment community when we went public. We expect to open two STKs in 2014, one of which has already opened in Washington, D.C. in April of this year, and we now expect to open at least two STKs in 2015, one each in Orlando and Chicago. In addition, we expect to launch a new hospitality services location in 2015,” continued Mr. Segal.

About The ONE Group

The ONE Group develops and operates upscale, high-energy restaurants and lounges and provides ONExperience™, a turn-key food and beverage service for hospitality venues including boutique hotels, casinos and other high-end locations in the United States and United Kingdom. The ONE Group’s primary restaurant brand is STK®, a unique steakhouse concept with locations in major metropolitan cities throughout the U.S. and in London. STK artfully blends two concepts, the modern steakhouse and a chic lounge, into one offering a high-energy, fine dining experience with the superior quality of a traditional steakhouse. The ONE Group’s food and beverage hospitality services business provides the development, management and operations for premier restaurants and turn-key food and beverage services at high-end boutique hotels and casinos. Additional information about The ONE Group can be found at www.togrp.com.

Cautionary Statement on Forward-Looking Statements

This press release includes “forward looking statements” within the meaning of the “safe harbor” provisions of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements may be identified by the use of words such as “anticipate”, “believe”, “expect”, “estimate”, “plan”, “outlook”, and “project” and other similar expressions that predict or indicate future events or trends or that are not statements of historical matters. A number of factors could cause actual results or outcomes to differ materially from those indicated by such forward looking statements, including but not limited to, (1) the ability to recognize the anticipated benefits of the business combination, which may be affected by, among other things, competition, our ability to open new restaurants and food and beverage locations in current and additional markets, grow and manage growth profitably, maintain relationships with suppliers and obtain adequate supply of products and retain our key employees; (2) factors beyond our control that affect the number and timing of new restaurant openings, including weather conditions and factors under the control of landlords, contractors and regulatory and/or licensing authorities; (3) changes in applicable laws or regulations; (4) the possibility that The ONE Group may be adversely affected by other economic, business, and/or competitive factors; and (5) other risks and uncertainties indicated from time to time in our filings with the SEC, including our Annual Report on Form 10-K filed on April 1, 2014.

Investors are referred to the most recent reports filed with the SEC by The ONE Group Hospitality, Inc. Investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance upon any forward looking statements, which speak only as of the date made, and we undertake no obligation to update or revise the forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.

 

Contact:
Investor Contact:
ICR
Don Duffy or Fitzhugh Taylor, 203.682.8200

By: Jeffrey Klineman

 

Premium product. It’s an argument that has worked for craft beer, high-pressure processed juices, vodka, bottled water and RTD teas.

It’s worked for Starbucks over your corner coffee shop, for Cape Cod Potato Chips over Lay’s, and it’s starting to work for Shake Shack as an alternative to McDonald’s as well.

Why can’t it work for sports drinks?

That’s the argument that the renowned BodyArmor team – primarily Fuze founder Lance Collins and Vitaminwater co-founder Mike Repole – has begun making after nearly three years of detours through the back roads of the beverage cooler. Now, the company is urging consumers to use BodyArmor to “Upgrade Your Sports Drink,” according to its new tagline.

UpgradeYourSportsDrink

 

“They upgrade all sports equipment,” says Collins. “Uniforms, equipment, sneakers, pads, bats. They upgrade compression shirts, gloves, all that stuff has changed, but sports drinks haven’t. We feel like isotonic consumers have been duped and they’re still drinking antiquated products at every turn.”

In other words, Gatorade (and its long-beleaguered runner up, Powerade) has had its run over the past 40 years. The BodyArmor argument is that there are better ingredients and branding that will appeal to consumers and better (for retailers, anyway) pricing that can be brought to the table.

Hence, after three years of fighting to be called something other than a sports drink, Collins and Repole are redefining their product – as, well, a sports drink, but a premium one. They are betting prodigious sums that athletes will look at BodyArmor as a better, more natural version, more functional version of Gatorade, and pay about $1.99 for a functional indulgence in the same way that a beer lover might trade up to a Sam Adams over a Budweiser or a juice lover might have gone for a Naked O.J. over a Minute Maid.

It’s a shift in strategy that seems to resonate, however late in the game it may have arrived.

“It’s a relevant tagline,” notes Ken Sadowsky, a beverage investor who backed Repole as a Vitaminwater distributor and a director at Glaceau, but did not invest in BodyArmor. “There’s an opportunity for a better sports drink.”

While there are other products that are looking in that direction – Kill Cliff, which has used an internet-based sales model to draw investment from Sherbrooke Capital, for example, while GNC licensed a high-middle-low strategy to Shadow Beverage not long ago – such an opportunity would have been unimaginable about a year ago, when BodyArmor was flailing about for an identity.

Repole says he knows that Gatorade drinkers will be ready to move to a new brand because he was able to attract some of them with Vitaminwater, even as that brand was working in white space.

“The one brand that Vitaminwater got users from while not going after them directly was Gatorade,” he says.

But if Vitaminwater drew from category invention, for BodyArmor, its early years of avoiding the sports drink category will always be questioned. After all, the brand was, at base, an isotonic, albeit one that trumpets its potassium content (largely derived from a 10 percent coconut water base) over the sodium, and one that trumpeted a mix of amino acids, antioxidants, tea, and other ingredients as giving it extra functionality.

Even early on, athletes were considered a key to the marketing mix, particularly after Repole signed on as an investor in early 2012, about nine months after the product’s first road show, during the spring of 2011. But despite the investors’ deep pockets (they’ve expressed a willingness to spend $100 million to make it work) and longstanding relationships with distributors, many of whom they had made rich through their previous enterprises, despite the signing of high profile endorsers – and there were many, including early signups like outfielder Mike Trout and tight end Rob Gronkowski – consumers struggled to make sense of the brand.

“It’s turned several corners,” says Jerry Reda, the COO of Big Geyser, which distributes the product in New York. “Before, it was too complicated. Nobody knew what a ‘super drink’ was.”

MikeLance

Whereas previously the company tried plays suggesting it was for the “everyday athlete” like a stockbroker, now, it’s for the elite athlete, a move it codified by selling a 10 percent stake to basketball star Kobe Bryant.

With the refined message, “It’s the easiest sell in the world against Gatorade,” Reda says. At a gym or an athletic event – or at a presentation to retailers, “all you have to do is tell the guys, do you really want to put all of those chemicals, artificial flavors, that sodium into your body?”

Recently, the brand is starting to move in key wholesale accounts like Big Geyser and others, which have confirmed assertions by Repole and Collins that BodyArmor sales have doubled – or more – over the previous year.  According to one IRI reading, the brand had sold $25 million at retail as of May – right before the key summer season for sports drinks.

That might not seem like much when compared with Gatorade’s $5 billion stranglehold on the category, but already BodyArmor is the third best-selling isotonic, and it’s only sold in 25 states. There are 25 more to go, and the brand is now in a position where it has worked out many of its kinks.

And at the start, there were kinks galore.

Early on, Collins’ and Repole’s ballyhooed return to the beverage business was turning into a bally-flop. The brand wasn’t selling, it tasted lousy, and massive amounts of free product were being given away to entice retailers to carry it and consumers to try it.

“If you could make mistakes, they made every one,” says Kevin Watterson, the president of G. Housen, a distributor in Vermont and New Hampshire that was one of the first to take the product. He lists the flaws: the product was way overpriced, coming in at between $2.49 and $2.99 a bottle; the bottle itself had an overwrap that meant the label had to be torn to get it open. The extra ingredients, Watterson said, meant “you had trouble swallowing it.”

BODYARMORpackaging

In the past two years, several key changes have happened to the product, and to the focus, that seem to have righted the ship: the flavors and SKUs have been rationalized by the removal of extraneous ingredients that were holding back the taste; the bottle itself has been improved – and can now be opened without the assistance of either a pocketknife or a burst of rage, and the price has come down to a suggested $1.99, with 2-for-$3 and 4-for-$5 deep discounts designed to bring consumers on board.

Collins argues that the technical problems, while the source of much snickering within the trade, were the same kinds of developmental speed bumps that are faced by entrepreneurial products that are introduced under a less-powerful microscope than the one the brand’s famous owners attracted.

“When you start a brand, you never know its DNA exactly,” Collins said. “When you launch it, and you put it in retailers, you’re very cognizant of who your customer is through demographics, sampling, and social media, eventually you get an idea of who is drinking your product and who the target is.”

The brand started to turn the corner when Repole came on board, according to Collins. His deep pockets and strategic vision have started to take the lead in terms of the company’s marketing and sales strategy.

“Mike Repole totally opened my eyes as to where we should position it in the store,” Collins said. “I’m doing a lot of the formulas and the innovation, and Mike does sales and marketing and social media and athlete outreach. We have to agree on most stuff, but Michael to me is a marketing genius.”

“I met him when he was 22 years old, and I was his mentor,” he adds. “He’s now become mine.”

After selling off one post-Vitaminwater investment, Pirate’s Booty, and shutting down another one, the restaurant line Energy Kitchen, the ever-pugnacious Repole sounds like he’s energized by finally having a target to take down.

“In the sports drinks category, the number one player has been the same player since 1965,” Repole said. “There’s only two players in the category and nobody has challenged them head-to-head. If I was going to come back in, it was going to have to be for an unbelievable opportunity.”

As with Vitaminwater, many of the brand’s sales are going through channels that might not show up on IRI data, through those up-and-down the street accounts, the small convenience stores and delis that were at the center of the brand’s growth.

That’s the heart of Repole’s strategy for BodyArmor as well. Outside of New York, the brand has avoided most grocery accounts to date to avoid being lined up against deeply discounted Gatorade and PowerAde shelf sets. Instead, it’s shooting for convenience, where a six-SKU shelf can be influential and promotions are for smaller quantities.  As it spreads out, it looks to natural sets for grocery – at least initially – and it’s already in the middle of a Costco road show as well.

“We’re picking our spots in convenience now,” Watterson said. “Places that can sell a $1.99 isotonic. And colleges, high schools, and the ‘bull ring’ around them have been our number-one focus for the past eight months.”

The change in category focus by the leadership team started about eight months ago, when Collins filed to trademark the phrase “Upgrade Your Sports Drink.” The brand started focusing on isotonic shelves in convenience, making a youth-focused argument, but one that also included gatekeepers to the family pantry, as well.

Perhaps not coincidentally, shortly after Christmas, the company settled a lawsuit with sports apparel maker Under Armour, a company that has also succeeded by offering consumers a product that sells at a premium to another iconic-but-long-in-the-tooth brand associated with Michael Jordan, Nike.

In March, the brand announced the Bryant investment – one that gave it increased visibility and access to a slightly older generation of players and fans than the ones that will be captured by the rest of its public faces, who include rising stars like James Harden, Richard Sherman, Kevin Love, Buster Posey and Andrew Luck.

“The Peyton Mannings, the Derek Jeters, Gatorade is all they know,” Repole says. “The younger athletes, they not only know more about things like Gatorade and Powerade, they ask questions about what they put in their bodies, whether it’s helping them.”

Standing in the way is one of the great marketing and product successes of the past half-century. Gatorade controls the leagues – it has been the official sports drink of the NBA since 1984, of the NFL, Major League Baseball, the NHL, you name it. It gave Bill Parcells a shower in 1985. It encouraged the world to “Be Like Mike” in 1991.

“Gatorade is the 600 lb. gorilla,” Sadowsky said. “Even if it was outed as not being that good for you, it wouldn’t be outed in the way that people are looking at [CSDs] right now.”

Still, if you’re asking for a way to ‘out’ the old school of isotonic, you couldn’t ask for a better opportunity than the one that was handed to BodyArmor in June, during the NBA finals. Led by Bryant, BodyArmor joined Gatorade in briefly “trolling” cramped superstar LeBron James as he grimaced on the sidelines of the first game, unable to help his Miami Heat teammates avoid a loss.

Gatorade’s social media team had already ridden donuts on Powerade’s lawn in telling the world that “the person cramping wasn’t our client. Our athletes can take the heat.”

But as Gatorade fired away at Powerade – it apologized the next day – BodyArmor’s social media team posted a picture of its own that seemed to depict James drinking a Gatorade.  Bryant then put up a picture of BodyArmor on an Instragram social media feed and unleashed a rant:

KobeInstagram

It was quite a broadside from a brand that had, until recently, spent so much of its existence telling the world – and this magazine – that it wasn’t even a sports drink, no way, it was something called a SuperDrink.

But a strategy has emerged. Of course, BodyArmor has found its focus in the task of trying to take on what is arguably the strongest brand this side of Coke. The opportunity? That the upgrade trend and the healthier ingredient trend have not yet converged on the sports drink category, and with a disciplined guerilla sales effort, their combination just might work to establish a major new brand.

It’s David vs. Goliath, maybe, but David’s got a lot of money in his sling.

“We’ve spent a lot of money,” Collins said. “When we were presenting to distributors and we had $25 million in the pocket, we said we were going to have to raise another $25 million. But Gatorade spends more money on the NFL than we will in three, four, five years – and that’s just one customer. Yeah, we’re spending, but we’ve got to be more nimble, we have to be faster. How do you devour a whale? One bite at a time.”