Cott Aquires DSS Group For $1.25 B

CottLate last week private brand beverage giant Cott Corporation announced that it would acquire DSS Group Inc, parent of DS Services of America Inc. a provider of bottled water, office coffee and water filtration services for approximately $1.25 billion, including the assumption of debt and the issuance of preferred shares to Crestview Partners and other selling shareholders.

The acquisition of DSS will accelerate Cott’s acquisition based diversification outside of carbonated soft drinks and shelf stable juices, and is in line with Cott’s strategy of focusing on higher margin growth oriented businesses in beverage and beverage adjacencies. The acquisition gives Cott a complementary beverage platform for growth while diversifying Cott’s channel mix beyond large format retail and supermarket stores. The acquisition is expected to:

  • Improve top-line growth
  • Enhance overall gross profit and EBITDA margins
  • Provide significant diversification across product categories, packaging formats and raw material purchases
  • Offer a new direct route to market that will improve channel mix beyond large format retail and supermarket stores
  • Reduce customer concentration
  • Provide cost and revenue synergies of approximately $25 million per year by the end of 2017

Jerry Fowden, Cott’s Chief Executive Officer commented, “Tom Harrington and his talented management team have done a great job building DSS. We are delighted that they will continue to lead the company going forward as we work together to drive future growth.”

Tom Harrington, CEO and President of DSS noted, “We firmly believe that bringing DSS into the Cott family will provide additional opportunities for the benefit of our employees and customers alike. Our leadership team is excited to work with Cott to drive growth, while creating cost synergies as well as portfolio expansion. On a final note, we want to thank Crestview Partners. They have been very supportive partners to DS and to me personally.”

Jeff Marcus, DSS’s Chairman and a Partner at Crestview, commented, “We have the highest regard for Tom and his team and have greatly enjoyed our partnership.  We believe this transaction will enable DSS to accelerate its growth initiatives and will firmly establish Cott as a leader in the beverage space.”  Mr. Marcus will serve on Cott’s Board of Directors as an observer.

Upon completion of the acquisition, DSS will operate as a subsidiary of Cott, based in Atlanta, Georgia. DSS will continue to be led by Tom Harrington, DSS’s current CEO and President, as well as the company’s present leadership team. The acquisition is expected to close by the end of January 2015.

Barclays acted as financial advisor to DSS on the transaction. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP acted as legal advisor.

Credit Suisse acted as financial advisor to Cott on the DSS transaction. Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP acted as legal advisor.

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Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.