Fish & Seafood

Investcorp Completes Fortune Fish Deal; Rich Products Buys Morey’s

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Investcorp, a Bahrain-based private equity firm, has acquired Bensenville, Illinois, USA-headquartered Fortune International, a distributor of seafood and gourmet food products. Terms of the transaction, announced on February 4, were not disclosed.

On the same day, it was reported that Buffalo, New York-headquartered Rich Products sealed a deal to buy Plymouth, Minnesota-based Morey’s Seafood International, the producer of a wide range of frozen and fresh fish products and co-packer of value-added seafood to the company’s SeaPak Shrimp & Seafood unit.

Early last year Fortune International purchased Morey’s operations in Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri. That deal excluded the Minnesota manufacturing and distribution business, which is now part of the Rich Products group of companies.

Fortune was founded in 2001 by Sean O’Scannlain, who will remain at the helm and have a significant ownership stake. With a strong founder-led management team, the company has grown to become one of the largest seafood and specialty food distributors in the United States.

Fortune offers more than 12,000 SKUs of seafood, meat and gourmet products to restaurants, grocery stores, hotels and other sales channels primarily in the US Midwest. The company has continually expanded its geographic footprint by acquiring specialty distributors in strategic markets.

In order to maintain operational flexibility, Investcorp and O’Scannlain have strengthened the company with a conservative capital structure to fund a deliberate acquisition strategy and further accelerate Fortune’s geographic expansion.

“Specialty foodservice distribution in the United States is a highly fragmented, resilient and growing $40 billion market,” said Dave Tayeh, Investcorp’s head of private equity in North America. “We believe that Fortune is well positioned to capture significant share with its unique platform as a scaled, specialty seafood enterprise delivering superior product quality and service across a wide breadth of products. We have a long history of partnering with founder-led businesses, and we look forward to working with Sean and his talented team over the coming years.”

Fortune has a state-of-the art facility located close to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, which enables timely delivery of products across key Midwest markets. In addition to premises in Illinois and Missouri it operates facilities in Minneapolis, Minnesota; Bayou La Batre and Birmingham, Alabama; and Picayune, Mississippi.

“We are proud of the business we have built over nearly two decades and we are excited to embark on this next phase. We are confident that Investcorp is the ideal firm to serve as our first institutional capital partner, given their deep understanding of the foodservice distribution market, alignment with our vision, and their strong track record of scaling businesses,” stared O’Scannlain.

Morey’s Acquisition by Rich

Meanwhile, the strategic acquisition of Morey’s by Rich Products paves the way for the buyer’s further expansion in the retail sector, where it is already ranks as the leading branded value-added frozen shrimp player.

“We’ve invested in Morey’s because we see an exciting opportunity to grow our seafood business and take it to even greater heights,” stated Jim Motos, senior vice president of Rich Products’ consumer brands division.

He continued: “Adding Morey’s knowhow, product portfolio and passion for high quality, authentic fish and seafood products to our already strong seafood business puts us in a great position to deliver more for our customers and meet the changing demands of their consumers.”

“Bringing our two venerable brands together under one roof will help drive our impact in the seafood category,” commented Morey’s CEO Jim Walstrom. “The combination of our seafood industry knowledge, superior products and customer portfolio pair well with Rich’s strong reputation.”

In business since 1937, Morey’s runs a manufacturing plant in Motley, Minnesota, and a seafood processing and distribution center in Plymouth. Its approximately 200 employees will remain intact as members of Rich Products’ workforce of more than 10,000 people worldwide. Ringing up more than $3.7 billion per year, the company’s wide range of frozen products includes baked goods and meatballs in addition to ice cream cakes and non-dairy creamer.