Dec. 24--Natural foods company Boulder Brands Inc. announced Monday that it has acquired EVOL Foods -- the homegrown maker of frozen burritos, quesadillas, entrees, bowls and skillet meals -- in a $48 million deal.
Boulder Brands, which makes products such as Smart Balance spreads and Udi's gluten-free bread, paid cash for EVOL Foods, which was owned by Phil's Fresh Foods LLC.
The company purchased EVOL from founder Phil Anson, a group of investors including Alliance Consumer Growth, and an investment vehicle created by Revelry Brands and Spier Capital Management.
The sale was finalized Monday, according to Boulder Brands Chief Executive Steve Hughes. The $48 million purchase amount includes future tax benefits estimated to be $8 million.
"We felt through this process, every step as we got closer to the finish line, we felt better and better about Phil and his team and our ability to do something special together," Hughes said in an interview with the Daily Camera.
Anson will become general manager of EVOL Foods and help lead Boulder Brands' frozen-foods unit.
Hughes said consumers should expect to see a collaboration between EVOL and Udi's in the form of Udi's gluten-free burritos, bowls and skillet meals in the next six to nine months.
Boulder Brands acquired Denver-based Udi's Healthy Foods in June 2012 for $125 million.
Rather than build Boulder Brands' frozen-foods division from scratch, Hughes said it made sense to use the expertise of EVOL's management team.
"This year, the Udi's pizza business started taking off and we realized there was a big opportunity in similar products that are gluten-free, whether it's burritos or bowls," Hughes said. "We love the (EVOL) brand. We love the business.
"But, more importantly, we love and need the management team. Phil's got that visionary leadership."
All 76 current EVOL Foods employees will become Boulder Brands employees, Anson said. Those employees who work at EVOL Foods' offices at 100 Arapahoe Ave. will move to Boulder Brands' corporate headquarters at 1600 Pearl St.
Boulder Brands relocated to Boulder from New Jersey this fall after a company reorganization.
Anson said he and his employees were glad to stay in Boulder, where the company began more than a decade ago.
"There's a lot of bad, unhappy endings for a lot of people with acquisitions, and I think being partnered with Boulder Brands is the opposite of that," Anson said. "We're staying in Boulder. We're a Boulder company staying in Boulder, moving right down the street.
"Everybody from the company is staying at the company and there's great synergy between our teams."
'Have more ammo'
Anson began selling burritos out of a cooler to climbers in Eldorado Canyon in early 2002. In April 2009, Brendan Synnott and Tom Spier, co-founders of Bear Naked, invested in what was then Phil's Fresh Foods and rebranded the company as EVOL Foods.
EVOL products are made without antibiotics and hormones and don't contain artificial preservatives or flavors, according to EVOL's website. The foods are made with organic ingredients.
With the addition of EVOL, Boulder Brands expects 2014 sales to be $540 million to $550 million, up from $515 million to $525 million.
EVOL is expected to contribute approximately $25 million in net sales in 2014. EVOL sales grew 70 percent in 2013, and Anson said the company can only keep growing under its new ownership.
"Honestly, we're just going to have more ammo to do what we've been doing with a more capable owner," he said. "This community has been really good to me and this business that I built. This is just an extension of that.
"We've all got big smiles."
Contact Staff Writer Sarah Kuta at 303-473-1106, email@example.com or twitter.com/sarahkuta.