Burt's Bees, Inc.
True to Nature
In 2003, AEA’s Middle Market Private Equity (“MMPE”) fund acquired a majority equity interest in Burt’s Bees, Inc. (“Burt’s Bees”), a leading, founder-led manufacturer and marketer of natural personal care products. The company offers a broad line of natural skin care, lip care, hair care, baby care, natural remedy, grooming and cosmetic products.
AEA MMPE identified Burt’s Bees as a market leader with a superior quality product portfolio and a highly loyal consumer base that the team could help to transition from a small, entrepreneur-run company offering products in niche channels into a broad-based consumer products business that could thrive in mainstream retailers. AEA MMPE was the preferred partner of choice for CEO and Founder Roxanne Quimby due to the firm’s vision for the company and brand, as well as philosophy of partnership with management. As a result, AEA MMPE was the only potential buyer with whom the CEO expressed a desire to retain a meaningful stake going forward.
During its ownership period, AEA MMPE recruited and developed a world class management team including facilitating the CEO transition from the founder to a talented executive and populated the Board of Directors with high quality expertise and experience. With AEA MMPE’s strategic guidance and support, the new leadership team successfully completed a number of initiatives, including but not limited to: (i) expanding from Burt’s Bees traditional base of health food and specialty channels to a nationwide rollout with CVS, Walgreens, and ultimately, Target, doubling its retail distribution footprint; (ii) investing in and developing innovative marketing campaigns to drive awareness of the brand; (iii) launching new products in strategic personal care categories such as hair care, sun care, hand washes and high end facial care; and (iv) operational improvements such as pricing optimization, working capital management, logistics and supply chain.
These various efforts improved profitability, efficiency, quality and enabled Burt’s Bees to nearly triple the company’s revenue. In November 2007, AEA MMPE sold Burt’s Bees to a strategic buyer.
Doubled retail outlets carrying Burt’s Bees products at sale
Revenue and EBITDA growth during ownership period
AEA Participants and board members provided strategic thought leadership
“Burt’s Bees success story had many authors, first among those was AEA. Together we built a tremendous business by taking smart risks, leaning into principles and pioneering new ways of operating. For me, the partnership with and unyielding support from the AEA team emboldened me to push a visionary strategy. They brought operating expertise, financial counsel and talent to the table to help us build a brand and business of unique value.”