November 19, 2018

Schwan’s Co. will sell to the largest food manufacturer in South Korea

Schwan’s Co. will sell to South Korea’s largest food manufacturer, for $1.8B to bring their Korean products into more US grocery stores and restaurants.

Schwan’s, a Minnesota-based food distributor known for its delicious pies and its gold home-delivery trucks, has been sold to Seoul-based CJ CheilJedang — South Korea’s largest food manufacturer.

With the deal expected to close next year, CJCJ will pay $1.8B for an 80% stake in Schwan’s and gain control of its businesses that serve restaurants, grocery stores, and other retailers.

All in the family

Marvin Schwan founded a home-delivery business in Marshall, Minnesota, in 1952. According to Marvin’s son and Schwan’s board member Paul Schwan, it was important to find a company to honor the family’s legacy. With CJCJ, the Schwan’s claim to have found such a business.

The family will retain 20% ownership of the food-distribution biz and 100% ownership of the Schwan’s Home Service Inc. (the home delivery business that Marvin spearheaded all those years ago).

But why Schwan’s?

While the small town home-delivery company may not look like much, it’s done a good job of quietly staying relevant in America by building a massive (and hard-to-replicate) distribution network.

Schwan’s has about $3B in annual sales and employs about 12k. CJCJ (a conglomerate originally part of the Samsung Group), who had $14.5B in sales last year, expects to gain footing and cost efficiency in US stores with the acquisition, with the hopes of bringing Korean products into more US grocery stores and restaurants.

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