The Comvest Group, a private investment firm, is purchasing a majority ownership position in Haggen, Inc. from brothers Don and Rick Haggen and their families.
Don and Rick Haggen are the sons of Ben and Dorothy Haggen, who founded the Bellingham, Wash.-based grocery company in 1933. They most recently served as co-chairmen of the company’s board.
“The Comvest Group’s investment in Haggen will maximize our potential and allow us to strengthen our market share in the highly competitive grocery industry,” Don Haggen said. “We are looking forward to serving our customers and remaining closely connected to our community for another 78 years.”
The Haggen family is retaining a significant minority ownership stake in the company and will continue to be involved in the company.
Comvest is a private investment firm focused on providing equity and debt capital to lower middle-market companies, including Allegiant Air. Since 1988, Comvest has invested more than $2 billion of capital in over 200 public and private companies worldwide.
“We have been very impressed with the exceptional quality and customer service we have found in the Haggen and TOP Foods stores,” said John Caple, a Managing Director of Comvest. “The company has a long history of innovation and community involvement; we look forward to continuing that legacy.”
The Haggen management team will remain in place with the exception of CEO and President Jim Donald, who is stepping down, but will continue to serve as an advisor to the company. Donald has led the company since October 2009.
“Jim Donald led this company during some of the most challenging economic times our industry has faced,” Rick Haggen said. “He made some tough decisions to make us leaner and better equipped to survive this recession. We are grateful for all of his many contributions.”
Clarence J. Gabriel has been named President and CEO of the company. Gabriel has over 25 years of senior leadership success in the consumer retail, supply chain management and manufacturing sectors. He has served in senior positions at several companies, including Albertsons and Pepsi-Cola North America.
“I am excited to be joining the company and moving to Bellingham,” Gabriel said. “The Haggen family, store managers and employees have built a wonderful legacy. We have good momentum that we intend to build on in the months to come.”
Gabriel added that the company’s headquarters will remain in Bellingham.
Sagent Advisors Inc. acted as exclusive financial advisor and Perkins Coie acted as legal advisor to Haggen, Inc. on the transaction. Akerman Senterfitt LLP acted as legal advisor to Comvest.