Wealthy Texas Businessman Invests in Blue Bell Creameries
Billionaire Sid Bass of Fort Worth, Texas, has become an investor and partner in Blue Bell Creameries, which shut down manufacturing operations following a voluntary recall in April of all its ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and frozen snacks because the possibility of Listeria monocytogenes contamination.
“We are pleased Sid Bass has made a significant investment with our company. The additional capital will ensure the successful return of our ice cream to the market and our loyal customers,” announced Paul Kruse, chief executive officer and president of Brenham, Texas-based Blue Bell, on July 14. He did not specify the amount the investment, though it is reportedly in the multi-million dollar range.
It has been estimated by PrivCo LLC, a firm that supplies financial data on privately held companies, that the extensive recall could cost Blue Bell upwards of $130 million in lost sales this year. Adding in repairs and expenditures related to corrective actions needed to get lines running safely, the total figure could rise to $180 million, according to PrivCo CEO Sam Hamadeh.
Bass, with assets of $1.7 billion, was recently ranked #391 on Forbes magazine’s list of billionaires. Active in the family oil and gas and carbon black businesses, he has managed long-term investments and worked closely with management teams throughout his career, notably The Walt Disney Company.
“We are excited to be a part of the Blue Bell brand and family,” commented Bass. “Blue Bell is the quality leader in the ice cream industry. We believe quality is the principle attribute that ensures the success, growth and longevity of a business.”
After laying off approximately 1,450 employees (37% of its workforce) in the spring following the shutdown of ice cream manufacturing plants in Oklahoma, Alabama and Texas, the ceo and president of the USA’s third largest ice cream brand stated: “We’re committed to doing the 100% right thing, and the best way to do that is to take all of our products off the market until we can be confident that they are all safe. We are heartbroken about this situation and apologize to all of our loyal Blue Bell fans and customers. Our entire history has been about making the very best and highest quality ice cream, and we intend to fix this problem. We want enjoying our ice cream to be a source of joy and pleasure, never a cause for concern, so we are committed to getting this right.”
Meanwhile, the 108-year-old company is hinting that its product line will soon return to frozen food cabinets in retail stores. A posting on the Blue Bell website advises: “We'll be back with our ice cream half gallons and pints as quickly as possible. Stay tuned...”
Earlier this month Blue Bell issued a statement saying the company had notified the US Food and Drug Administration and state health officials in Alabama that it hopes to begin limited test production of ice cream at its plant in Sylacauga, Alabama, within the next several months in order to confirm that new procedures, facility enhancements and employee training have been effective. Ice cream produced will be closely monitored and tested. Upon completion of this trial period, Blue Bell aims to begin building inventory to return to the market.