The Hain Celestial Group, Inc., a leading organic and natural products company with operations in North America, Europe and India, announced the acquisition of the remaining approximately 80% that it did not already own of EK Holdings, Inc. and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Empire Kosher Poultry, Inc., based in Mifflintown, Pennsylvania. The purchase price for the remaining approximately 80% of Empire was $57.6 million, which includes net debt that was repaid at closing. In May 2010 Empire purchased Kosher Valley, the first brand of certified kosher antibiotic-free, vegetarian fed and humanely raised all natural branded chicken and turkey products, from Hain Pure Protein Corporation at which time HPPC received a 19% interest in Empire.
Empire offers a full range of kosher antibiotic- and hormone-free chicken and turkey products including fresh tray pack, frozen, deli, fully cooked, gluten-free and organic products in the United States as well as the Kosher Valley brand sold exclusively in Whole Foods Market. Empire generated over $100 million in net sales in calendar year 2014 and is expected to be accretive to Hain Celestial's earnings in fiscal year 2016.
"We are excited with our strategic acquisition of Empire, the leading kosher, antibiotic-free poultry brand in the United States and welcome Jeff Brown and the Empire team to Hain Celestial. Empire expands our Farm to Table product offerings, a growing category that appeals to those seeking 'the pure foods trend,' including our core natural and organic consumers. We plan to expand the product offerings into deli, fresh prepared foods and other grocery categories. Additionally, we expect to leverage our infrastructure to create revenue and procurement synergies, and we paid an attractive price considering the multiples being paid for antibiotic-free protein companies today," said Irwin D. Simon, Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hain Celestial.
Jeffrey N. Brown, Chief Executive Officer, will continue to be responsible for the day-to-day operations of Empire, reporting to Irwin Simon. Empire practices sustainable farming, promotes social justice and strictly observes Jewish dietary laws to produce among the best tasting and highest quality all-natural poultry products. Empire chicken and turkey products are not only for those who keep kosher for religious reasons but for those who want to eat healthfully and safely as well as responsibly by promoting worker and animal rights, protecting the environment and supporting local farmers and their communities.
"Empire products appeal to a broad market of consumers, not just those seeking our brand and products to observe dietary customs. As the No. 1 kosher producer of humanely raised hormone-free and antibiotic-free poultry, I'm pleased to be able to continue the heritage of Empire under the stewardship of Hain Celestial, where we feel we can leverage opportunities to expand our distribution," said Jeffrey N. Brown, Chief Executive Officer of Empire.
"Empire is a strong brand in a growing category with a lot of experience, which provides us with the opportunity to broaden our existing portfolio of organic and natural brands into healthier kosher products. Empire should leverage Hain Celestial's knowhow and infrastructure to pursue new categories and kosher product offerings," concluded Irwin Simon.