Q4 INDUSTRY UPDATE
The first several months of 2016 included many large pet transactions, like the acquisition of the Sojos brand by WellPet, the purchase of Whistle by Mars Petcare and the PetValu/Pet Supermarket deal. However, as we forecasted in Q3, the last few months of 2016 saw more transactions involving smaller-format pet specialty retailers looking to grow their geographic footprint and announcements by other companies that they intend to pursue this strategy.
In October, Kriser’s announced the first transaction in its history, the acquisition of Wylie Wagg, which enabled the company to expand into Washington, D.C. and Virginia. Since opening ten years ago, Kriser’s has organically developed its stores in Colorado, Texas, Southern California and Chicago and now operates over 40 locations, including the Wylie Wagg stores.
Bentley’s Pet Stuff has a history of making acquisitions in order to enter new geographic areas and using them as a basis to launch organic growth. This quarter, the company acquired Pet Food Zoom, for pet food delivery, and Moochies, adding 11 mall-based stores in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. In February, Bentley’s acquired the Shorewood, WI pet store Pet Outpost and said it planned to open up to 10 stores in the Milwaukee area over the course of 12 months. Over the first weekend of December, the company opened six new stores in the region. Also at around 40 stores, the company has plans to grow to 100 stores by Spring 2017.
Entering 2017, we see no stopping the trend of humanizing pets that has dominated the sector in recent years.
According to Petfoodindustry.com, several human food and beverage trends for 2017 identified by Innova Market Insights for humans easily could apply to pets too.
- Total transparency throughout the entire supply chain. “Natural” alone no longer has the cache that it once did. Pet parents are looking for clean labels with more narrowly focused definitions and the ability to track the origin and processing of pet food ingredients.
- Benefits of plants. While raw meat has become mainstream, consumers still want to garner the benefits of plants for their pets. Plant-based ingredients could become more significant going forward, even in meat-based products.
- Use of seeds and ancient grains. Following human food trends, pet food manufacturers are differentiating their grain-free products by introducing seeds, such as chia. Meanwhile, some are shifting away from the grain-free trend, while not reverting to old recipes, with the addition of ancient grains such as amaranth and quinoa. Many ancient grains are gluten free and high in protein, calcium, omega-3s and an array of vitamins and minerals…
Q3 INDUSTRY UPDATE
Key M&A Transaction
Q3 saw Roark Capital effect the merger of Pet Valu, North America’s third-largest pet specialty retailer, and Pet Supermarket, the largest community-based pet specialty retailer, creating the largest small-format, neighborhood, pet-specialty retailer in North America. Roark Capital initially took Pet Valu private in 2009. In early 2015, Pet Valu acquired the Jack’s Pets chain of 32 stores and later that year Roark acquired Pet Supermarket. The newly combined entity is known as Pet Retail Brands, and has over 900 stores in the U.S. and Canada and approximately $1 billion in sales. Both retailers have been growing fast and expect synergies from shared infrastructure, merchandising services and other resources.
We expect to continue to see the consolidation of smaller pet-specialty retailers. Recently, Chuck and Don’s, a top-25 retailer of high-end pet food and supplies with over 30 stores, announced that it is considering acquisitions for the first time in its history.
According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), consumers will spend $62.7 billion on pets in 2016. With continued pet market expansion, more and more companies are investing in technology and software for both pet parents and pet industry players.
Pet care businesses, such as groomers and boarding facilities, are using online technology to schedule appointments, send appointment reminders via text or email (which can reduce no–shows by over 50%) and send automated reminders for follow up bookings and to re-engage customers. Consumers also are using search engines and review sites outside of normal business hours to schedule over 40% of appointments. We are seeing interest continue to rise in this segment. For example, Rover, which connects and books dog sitters and walkers with pet parents, recently raised an additional $30 million from existing investors Menlo Ventures, Madrona Venture Group and Foundry Group.
On the hardware side, the wearables market for pets is expected to reach nearly $1 billion by 2022, according to Grand View Research. This is coming from startups looking to gain traction in the emerging pet tech category, including GPS monitors by Nuzzle, Gibi, Pod and Wuf and health/fitness trackers by PetPace and Voyce. In addition, traditional pet companies are getting in on the action, such as Mars via its acquisition of Whistle. The most surprising acquirers are the old-line electronic manufacturers. Acer, the global hardware and electronics company, announced that it is entering the pet accessories market with its recent acquisition of Pawbo, a Taiwanese maker of dog and cat products. Pawbo’s first product is an interactive pet camera, microphone and speaker that enables the user to “converse” with his or her pet, control accessories and even capture photos for social media. Targeted at millennials, a key demographic in the market, Pawbo will soon add activities and treat dispensers.
From a consolidation perspective, pet tech dominated pet M&A activity in Q3 with 12 transactions, nearly as many as all other segments combined.
Q2 INDUSTRY UPDATE
Activity within the Pet industry continues to be driven by the humanization of pets, especially as millennials reach adulthood. The ongoing drive toward more natural products translates into a market with high growth potential that is now gaining momentum even outside of traditional pet food categories. According to Packaged Facts’ “U.S. Pet Market Outlook 2016-2017,” the humanization trend is spreading beyond dogs and cats to birds and small mammals. The trend can be noticed mostly in pet food and treats (natural, functional, gourmet, convenient, green, lifestyle/species specific and human-grade ingredients).
At the same time, consumers around the globe are jumping on the natural bandwagon. Interzoo 2016 saw a new spotlight on meat and protein-based pet food, with a focus on grain free, fresh meat, and BARF (biologically appropriate raw food). The European market also has seen an increasing desire for alternative protein, whether for perceived health reasons, such as pet allergies, or concerns over supply and sustainability. One example is insect protein, which is showing up in pet treats in North America and even in complete diets in Europe.
As the Pet industry continues to grow on a global scale and new options develop, consumers can be even more selective. From ingredients to packaging, today’s conscious consumers are continually pressuring companies to operate responsibly and sustainably. One increasingly apparent trend is consumers’ desire for brand transparency, and now pet owners have the ability to trace the origin of a product’s ingredients. This “conscious-consumer movement” also is driving M&A growth globally in the alternative/specialty pet food categories, as limited-ingredient diets and other specialty products continue to gain traction…
Our observations from the 2016 Global Pet Expo in Orlando and newly released data confirm to us that the ongoing humanization of pets is growing beyond the $30-billion U.S. pet food market and into the more broad health and wellness industry. In a March 2016 Nielsen Survey of American and French pet owners, 85% stated that they believe food choices can extend the lives of their pets. In addition, a 2015 Packaged Facts Report stated that 74% of owners strongly agree or somewhat agree that high-quality dog foods are effective for preventive health care, up from 51% in 2014. New product offerings, M&A transactions and overarching trends seen in the Pet Industry continue to be decidedly similar to human consumer trends in food, healthcare and wearable technology.
Within the Food and Treats segments, not only have ingredients and sources in pet food become more scrutinized, but also large players are now competing for market share from pet owners who are treating their dogs and cats to non-GMO, grain-free, raw, supplemental or other fundamental food products. WellPet added more natural and raw food options to its product offering through M&A. By acquiring Sojourner Farms LLC, the company added the Sojos line of homemade, all natural, freeze dried, raw pet food to its healthy and natural brand portfolio. Zuke’s also announced that it will be expanding its treat-based business to include natural dog food. Available in summer 2016, Zuke’s Ascent Natural Dog Food will be free of grains, wheat, corn, soy, artificial preservatives, colors and flavors. The U.S. grain-free pet food market currently is worth $2 billion. Supplemental bars, similar to granola or protein bars for humans, also have taken off in the pet space via R&D by traditional pet food manufactures and start-ups. Purina retails pre-exercise (PRiME Bar) and post-exercise (ReFUEL Bar) nutrition bars under its Pro Plan brand. Smaller players like PowerBark and TurboPUP have gone one step further and have created nutritional bars to replace entire meals for when owners and pets are not home in time for dinner.
Beyond just caring for pets through their diets, attention to pet activity and fitness is becoming a major focus. In 2015, 58% of dogs and 54% of cats were considered overweight or obese. As consumers become more interested in tracking their pets’ exercise in addition to their own, fitness trackers like Fitbark and Whistle are making an impact. In March, Mars Petcare reportedly acquired Whistle for over $100 million. Whistle stated, “We look forward to connecting nutrition, healthcare and technology to improve the lives of pets and their families”. Whistle acquired pet wearable competitor and maker of Tagg, Snaptracs Inc., in 2015. Previously, Whistle raised over $20 million in venture funding from Carmelo Anthony’s Melo7 Technologies, Nokia Growth Partners, Nas’ Queensbridge, Slow Ventures, DCM Ventures and Qualcomm. Concern for pets’ health and wellness will continue driving growth, M&A and innovation in the industry.
The Pet Industry finished 2015 strong after a busy year of M&A activity fueled by favorable trends. As consumers continue “humanizing” their pets and are more concerned with ingredients and brand reputation, strategic acquirers are targeting niche brands with dedicated customer bases. The increasing demand for organic and/or eco-friendly food and products reflects greater pet health consciousness. Treating pets as members of the family drives pet owners to spend more on their animals, creating higher margins across all industry subsectors, including premium food and treats, developmental toys and advanced veterinary care.
The persisting trend of pet humanization has led to the increased presence of basic pet products in popular channels such as supermarkets, discount department stores and online retailers. According to the 2015-2016 National Pet Owners Survey, approximately 65% of U.S. households own a pet. These trends could affect large retailers like PETCO and PetSmart as discount and mid-market pet brands become more widely available, potentially limiting demand for pet-only superstores. In addition, this trend has forced independent pet exclusive retailers to search for new ways to increase revenue and differentiate themselves, offering services such as grooming and pet boarding.
Throughout 2015, PETCO, the nation’s second largest pet retailer, considered going public again or merging with PetSmart. Instead, private equity group CVC Capital Partners and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board agreed to acquire PETCO from TPG and Leonard Green & Partners. The $4.6-billion purchase price was approximately half the dollar value for which PetSmart sold in December 2014. Although the two retail giants each has around 1,300 stores, in their 2014 fiscal years, PETCO only produced a 1.8% profit margin on $4 billion in sales while PetSmart generated a 6.1% profit margin from $6.9 billion of sales. Despite PETCOs inferior profit margin, the company traded at a comparable EV/EBITDA multiple about one year later, demonstrating the strength of the industry. PETCO only operates retail locations in Mexico, Puerto Rico and the U.S., yet the company makes the list of top retailers to Canadian pet owners due to extensive cross-border shopping by Canadians.
Accelerated by the economic recovery, pet ownership is growing, and demand is high for premium products and continued innovation in toys and veterinary services. Going forward, we expect to see continued M&A activity across the industry from giants including PETCO, Nestlé Purina and human-focused firms such as the J.M. Smucker Company, as well as from many middle-market pet players.
The Pet Industry continued its upward trend in Q3 of 2015, witnessing large movements in the super-premium, natural, organic foods and specialty services sectors. These growing consumer trends have largely removed the Pet Industry from many of the volatile M&A cycles occurring in the other industries.
Large companies in the Pet Industry continue to aggressively seek entrances into niche, specialty spaces through acquisitions of small, branded companies rather than pursuing them organically. Comparatively, medium-sized companies in the Pet Industry are finding a unique environment for independent growth with the past couple of years witnessing the emergence of new medium-sized specialty and super premium industry leaders. Many players in this size range are facing the decision of selling at high multiples at their current size or pursuing continued development of brand, distribution and operations independently. The best example of this trend is Blue Buffalo, going from net losses in 2002 to net income of $102 million in 2014 through its specialty premium product offerings. Pursuing growth without the help of M&A, the company went public on July 22, 2015, and witnessed shares rising at 36%. Another medium-sized niche player, WellPet, has pursued an aggressive growth model, initiating new branding efforts and improving logistics and operations throughout 2015. The choice between independent growth and M&A falls on all levels of this unique industry. Petco, a pet retail giant, is currently debating internally between going public and merging with competitor PetSmart. This merger theoretically could result in the consolidation of over half of US Pet Retail sector revenues. With premium valuations and new and emerging trends in pet ownership, the industry is poised to continue its strong performance, to drive innovation and fuel M&A activity.
The Pet Industry experienced stable performance through Q2 2015. Rising pet ownership rates and household spending on pets have boosted industry success over the past five years, resulting in a revenue CAGR of 2.9% since 2010. The baby boomer generation has largely been driving this rising consumption of pet goods and services. This consumer class has instigated a trend toward the “humanization” of pets as “replacement kids,” spurring a move in the Pet Industry toward lavish and innovative toys, healthy foods and treats and premium pet services. This shift in demand to high-end pet spending has caused many large industry players to seek acquisitions of niche, specialty products and services. The budding role of technology in this sector has increased the number of players in the space and is expected to promote M&A activity and valuation multiples for niche players throughout the year.
A slight reduction in demand due to the aging of the baby boomer generation, a large component of current industry demand, is forecasted to slow growth rates across the industry in coming years. However, rising pet ownership rates, coupled with increased disposable income and improved consumer confidence, will continue to result in revenue growth for the pet industry. Correspondingly, rising demand for niche, high-quality pet products and services will warrant premium valuations for specialty, technological and innovative players, and will likely drive M&A activity in the Pet Industry.
The pet industry sustained stable levels of transaction activity in Q1 2015. Historically, the pet industry has maintained year over year growth throughout economic cycles, driving consistently high interest from buyers and investors alike. The high growth, high margin animal healthcare and products segments have largely led the industry in recent years, commanding high levels of M&A activity at premium multiples in Q1 2015. Driven by premium pet health services and product trends, industry players are increasingly seeking acquisition of specialty pet health companies. For instance, AmerisourceBergen (NYSE:ABC) has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire MWI Veterinary Supply (MWI), the leading animal health distribution company in the United States, at a price of $190.00 per share, or $2.5 billion of fully diluted equity value. All segments of the industry pulled high valuations in Q1 2015, as transaction activity and overall industry growth continue to outperform the overall economy. Pet food companies are finding EBITDA multiples nearing 14x, while companies producing pet toys and other durable products are generating average multiples of 12x EBITDA. These relatively strong multiples are a vote of confidence for an industry which enjoys stable cash flows and a devoted consumer base.
In the five years to 2020, the pet population is forecast to grow at an average rate of 2.1% annually. Rising disposable income and overall improving consumer confidence are forecast to accelerate industry growth from 2015 to 2020. These consumer and industry trends, combined with the healthy levels of transaction activity shown in Q1, have the pet industry poised to sustain continued levels of growth and transaction activity throughout the remainder of 2015.
The “pet parent” trend in America and the corresponding growth in demand for premium pet products and services continued to drive high levels of industry growth in Q4 of 2014. Increasing numbers of pet-owning households are demanding all-natural, organic pet foods as well as high-end services for their pets. Among retailers, competition remains fierce between supermarkets, discount departments stores and online-only retailers. In mid-December 2014, PetSmart, the $7 billion revenue pet retail giant, was acquired by financial buyers for $8.3 billion. The global growth of this pet trend is also witnessed through increasing international M&A activity, such as Spectrum’s acquisition of the IAMS and Eukanuba brands in Europe. Many of the large players in the industry are seeking to expand their specialty products and services through acquisition of smaller companies, as witnessed in Petco’s acquisition of pet catalog company Drs. Foster and Smith, Inc.
M&A activity in the pet industry remained high in Q3 of 2014, yielding 9 total transactions. As the pet industry continues to experience high revenue levels, companies seek to invest in the specialty pet product niche and online retail sector. Bark & Co, which provides specialty products for dogs, received $10 million in its series B round of funding led by existing investor Resolute Ventures. PetSmart acquired Pet360 for $130 million in a strategic move to expand its e-Commerce business. Brad’s Raw Foods, a specialty dog snack producer, and Camp Bow Wow, a specialty pet service provider, entered into investment and acquisition deals, respectively. Pethealth, Inc, which provides medical insurance for pets, was acquired by Fairfax Financial Holdings for $85 million. The pet industry can expect continued high levels of M&A activity in Q4 due to growing revenues and increasing demand for pet specialty products and services.
Once again the M&A activity for the Pet industry has remained consistent for the second quarter of 2014, with nine announced transactions. Three of those transactions were major acquisitions totaling over $8 billion, including MARS Inc.’s acquisition of three major pet food brands from Proctor & Gamble; Eli Lilly’s acquisition of Novartis Animal Health; and the Harbinger Group’s potential acquisition of the Central Garden & Pet Company. In the past few years, the industry’s major players have been consolidating across all sectors from pet healthcare to distribution (with Phillips completing four acquisitions and Animal Supply completing five acquisitions in 12 months), and this trend is likely to continue for the next few years because the industry is expected to grow to $75 billion by 2017.
M&A activity for the Pet industry has remained steady from Q4 2013 with another 7 transactions announced this quarter. Strategic acquisitions are still top dog when it comes to M&A activity. However, private equity is really ramping up their focus on the industry and are paying higher-then-standard PE multiples for branded pet companies. Overall the outlook in 2014 for the pet industry is positive! Growth is expected to continue across all pet categories at a rate of about 5 percent, with industry sales increasing to $64.92 billion in 2014, and a projected $75.09 billion by 2017, according to MarketResearch.com.
M&A activity for the Pet industry has remained steady in Q4 2013, with 7 transactions announced. Once again strategic acquisitions continue to dominate deal activity. This follows the pattern of the overall market, which saw more strategic transactions (56%) in 2013. However, in 2014, Private Equity investments are predicted to increase, but so is demand for Private Equity financing.
Pet Industry M&A activity has slowed down slightly in Q3 2013, with 7 transactions announced compared to 10 in the second quarter. Strategic acquisitions continue to dominate deal activity within the industry, with a particular focus on distribution services. Major players like Animal Supply Co. and Pet food Experts have increased their distribution territories through acquisitions in the past quarter.
Following the trends of the first half of the year, Q3 had numerous mergers and acquisitions involving strategic industry insiders looking to grow through acquisition. We expect this trend to continue throughout the rest of the year.
Pet Industry M&A activity has increased in Q2 2013, with 11 transactions closing compared to 5 in the first quarter. Deals varied in size and segment and included pet food manufacturing, veterinary products and services, animal health, and pet websites. Private equity played a significant role this past quarter with four completed deals, representing over $14 million of investment into pet-related companies.
M&A Pet Transactions this past quarter have begun to slow, with only 5 announced transactions. Most deals were strategic acquisitions, in which large companies increase their distribution and offerings by purchasing well-known smaller brands within the industry.
During February, the 2013 Global Pet Expo was hosted in Orlando Florida. The show featured 964 exhibitors, 2,686 booths and more than 3,000 new product launches. With 5,327 pet product buyers from around the world in attendance the show broke records across the board. We love the pet industry!
M&A Pet Transactions remained steady in the fourth quarter of 2012, with 7 announced transactions. Once again strategic acquisitions accounted for the majority of the transactions (85%); reinforcing the notion that now might be the time to sell.
Some good news for the industry: in October, Forbes Magazine announced that there is a growing pet industry sector, including franchising of pet services, such as dog-walking franchises, pet sitting franchises and pet hotels. Other pet-based businesses that are picking up momentum in the franchise sector include health insurance for pets and animal identification tags. Be on the lookout for companies in this sector to make noise in the New Year.
In the third quarter Pet Industry M&A activity has slowed down, with only 5 announced transactions. However, these transactions still made an impact on the industry with 40% of deals exceeding $50 million.
September was a busy month with the SuperZoo trade show taking place in Las Vegas, NV. This year’s show hosted 871 exhibiting companies, including 254 first-time exhibitors; attendance also increased 12% over the 2011 event.
Pet Industry M&A activity cooled off a little in the second quarter, with 8 announced transactions compared with 10 in the first quarter. Pet deals varied in size and segment with deals in pet product manufacturing, pet food distribution, pet related websites, grooming shows, pet safety, and pet retail. Both strategic and financial buyers were active in the second quarter, with strategic acquisitions accounting for 62% of the total transactions.
Pet Industry M&A is off to a hot start in 2012, featuring ten announced transactions. Pet deals varied in size and segment with deals in pet product manufacturing, pet food distribution, pet related websites, veterinary products and services, animal health, and pet retail. Phillips Feed and Pet Supply, a pet food distributor, closed two deals in the first quarter of 2012 and expanded their distribution network in the Northeast. Strategic acquisitions dominated the first quarter; however, financials continue to be interested in innovative pet companies as seen in the Dog Vacay deal.
The fourth quarter of 2011 was marked with only a few pet transactions as many pet companies focused on organic growth. However, the overall 2011 calendar year was very strong for pet transactions as over 40 transactions were recorded. Private equity continued to pour into the industry while large and medium sized pet companies continued to purchase smaller competitors in order to gain market share. Venture capital made a rare appearance as new innovations in the pet industry came to market. The outlook for pet deal activity in 2012 is strong as mergers and acquisitions in general are expected to pick up in what should be a strong year for retail and consumer-driven industries.
The pet industry showed its resilience in spite of market conditions again this quarter as mergers and acquisitions (“M&A”) in the pet industry outpaced M&A in most other sectors. In a quarter where theSaf U.S. macro economy threatened another downturn and high growth companies reevaluated their IPOs, private equity investors put their capital to work in the pet industry as a safe haven for positive returns. With over $400 billion in private equity money on the sidelines and nearly $1 trillion of corporate cash on corporate balance sheets, more and more investors will look at pet companies as strong acquisition candidates.
The Pet Industry continued its acquisitive growth in the second quarter though at a slower pace. As larger pet companies find it difficult to come up with innovative new products and services, they are looking to acquire smaller pet companies to fulfill that void. Further, companies and investors not in the pet business are looking to enter the pet industry by way of acquisition.
The Pet Industry finished out the First Quarter of 2011 with a sizeable amount of M&A activity. Strategic acquisitions continue to dominate deal activity within the industry, with a particular focus on unique product and service offerings. Several of the deals in Q1 leveraged the core competencies of the purchasing companies, allowing for increased synergies and expanded product lines. First Quarter 2011 has followed the trends of Q4 2010, with numerous mergers and acquisitions involving financial and strategic industry insiders looking to grow through acquisition.
The Pet Industry finished 2010 with a flurry of M&A activity involving financial and strategic industry insiders looking to grow through acquisition. The quarter-over-quarter increase in deal activity was driven primarily by strategic acquisitions in which acquirers bid on pet product companies that would expand existing product lines. Unique product and service offerings (i.e. Xena Care’s acquisition of EstraPet) continued to dominate strategic activity and multiples paid.
As we saw in Q3 2010, high-performing companies were able to command price premiums while weak-performing companies needed unique deal aspects to consummate financial and capital transactions.
Mergers and acquisitions within the Pet Industry continued to show strong volume and healthy deal multiples for the third quarter of 2010. As medium and large strategic buyers in the sector look to employ cash reserves and financial buyers seek recession-resistant investments we expect to see continued, and growing, demand for manufacturers, distributors and retailers within the Pet Industry. SDR expects deal multiples to remain favorable for niche players and for strong financial performers as the supply of qualified pet companies for sale falls short of the demand. As fallout from the supply/demand inequity, buyers will look deeper into the candidate pool and we expect to see pet companies without a defensible niche and without strong financial performance will begin garnering attention from active buyers.
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