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Hood gets Brigham's.

Following closely upon its statement in June that it was exploring strategic alternatives, Brigham's Ice Cream has announced its decision to sell its product lines, including its brand name, proprietary flavors, and recipes, to regional market leader HP Hood, and its 28 retail outlets and restaurants to Baltimore-based Deal Metrics LLC, an equity investment firm. Terms of either transaction were not disclosed. A spokesman for Brigham's announced that about 40 employees at Brigham's ice cream facility will lose their jobs and receive separation pay while the approximately 100 employees at Brigham's 28 retail locations will continue under the new management.

Brigham's current owner, New England Capital. Partners of Newton bought the company from a foreign investment group in 2004. The company was already facing financial problems at that time and attempts to turn things around came up short as liquidity problems leading to an inability to pay its debts created the circumstance in which its leading lender was able to force the sale. At that point, the company brought in Tron Group, a Boston private equity firm, to help strategize and explore ways to make the company profitable. Robert Wexler, Tron's chief, became Brigham's chief executive in May.

Brigham's has had annual sales of about $14 million from its packaged ice cream and $6 million from restaurant sales. Brigham's is reported to have about a 17 percent share of the premium ice cream market in New England and its flagship vanilla flavor, a frequent winner of "best vanilla" awards over the years, has a 34 percent share of the Boston market.

At its peak, Brigham's produced 1.3 million cases of ice cream a year and ran 120 ice cream shops throughout Massachusetts. The brand is considered a strong competitor to more expensive pint-packed superpremium ice creams. Hood will continue to produce the 94-year-old Brigham's ice cream and frozen yogurt flavors using Brigham's proprietary recipes.

In recent years, Hood has become one of the largest branded dairy operators in the United States, with 23 manufacturing plants throughout New England and New York and some $2.3 billion in revenues. Founded in 1846 in Massachusetts, Hood began its expansion from a regional New England company in 2004 when, under new ownership it acquired New York-based Crowley Foods and Minnesota-based Kemps LLC.

Hood declined the opportunity to purchase the Brigham's production facility in Arlington, MA. The plant will close and about 40 employees will be laid off. Hood will begin producing Brigham's at one of its own plants for both retail sales and to supply the Brigham's restaurants.

Deal Metrics LLC will use the Brigham's name under a licensing agreement with Hood, which was not inclined to get involved in the brand's retail operations. Deal Metrics LLC was previously Madison Capital Markets LLC, operating as a merger advisory firm. It acquired its new name in May 2008, relocated to downtown Baltimore and focused on becoming a private equity investment firm. Deal Metrics reportedly will attempt to expand the Brigham's chain, keeping the traditional formulas.
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Publication:Ice Cream Reporter
Date:Jul 20, 2008
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