17 Jan 2022

BFY Brands: A recipe for investment

With Permira’s support, we transformed from our manufacturing heritage to become a branded leader in better-for-you snacking. With their deep knowledge of consumer businesses, broad contacts and collaborative approach, they were the ideal partner to back our growth.
Paul Nardone – former CEO, BFY Brands

Busy, health-conscious consumers want to snack, and not on celery. Our ‘health and wellness’ thesis identified an opportunity to support a business that had solved the product challenge of snack food that was both healthy and tasty. BFY Brands had achieved precisely that. It just needed a backer that could help it do everything else.

“Thanks to the management team and the 750-strong BFY team, we took a great product and made BFY a great company. We invested in the operations, the assets and the people and established a winning culture that we all could be proud of and enriched the whole business as well as the community.” John Coyle – Partner, Permira

Essential ingredients

BFY’s big advantage was its great product which, unusually for a company of its size, it manufactured in-house with proprietary intellectual property. While the large food brands were struggling to innovate, there was real opportunity for market share to be taken by more nimble innovators, and BFY’s simple, low-calorie product delighted consumers.

But the business was exceptionally lean, with a single product line and a regional concentration in the Northeast US. Its brand and team had not received the investment or attention they merited, and this meant the company’s full potential was not being realized.

In order to release BFY’s potential, Permira became actively involved in the business, introducing broad-ranging operational changes, including:

  • Strengthened leadership, including the introduction of a high performing CEO and a President / Chief Sales Officer;
  • Expanded distribution beyond the company’s historic Northeast concentration;
  • Invested in a state-of-the-art R&D facility in Liberty, New York;
  • Developed and launched popular new products, such as Flex Protein Crisps and Flourish Veggie Crisps;
  • Doubled down on health, wellness and ethics by shifting to organic and non-GMO;
  • Refreshed market positioning, with new packaging, pricing and advertising, led by a new CMO;
  • Improved health and safety standards.

Proof of the pudding

As a result of these investments, with Permira’s backing BFY was transformed from a regional brand to an industry leader. The company’s marketing logo and motto became, Do One Better! – and it did.

  • Voted ‘Best Employer in the County’, following overhaul of workplace conditions and culture;
  • More than doubled the size of the workforce, from about 350 to 750 employees;
  • ‘All commodity volume’ (ACV) – a measure of in-store presence – improved from the high 20s to 60, while also doubling the number of retail distribution points;
  • Grew from #17th to #10th best-selling healthy salty snacks in US, and the #1 fastest growing;
  • More than doubled revenues.

Sale to PepsiCo

The sale of the BFY to PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay business confirmed our thesis around the demand for innovation and provided a win-win for the acquirer, the company and its customers.

BFY continues to grow from its manufacturing bases in Middletown and Liberty, NY, and now has access to PepsiCo’s unmatched distribution network – something its products, brands and team fully merit.