The Turnaround Management Association ("TMA") recognized Fort Dearborn Partners, Inc. as the winner of the prestigious TMA Large Transaction of the Year Award at its Annual Awards Dinner in Chicago on November 18th, 2013. The TMA Awards are selected each year by a committee of professionals involved with turnaround management and corporate renewal. The Large Transaction of the Year Award recognizes the effort and creativity shown by Fort Dearborn to assist the owners of Dearborn Wholesale Grocers in the successful sale of their distribution businesses.
Dearborn Wholesale Grocers ("Dearborn Wholesale" or the "Company") was a leading food distributor focused on serving the convenience store and grocery segments in the Midwest. Tracing its roots to the 1890's, Dearborn Wholesale's name is well known among food industry professionals for its high level of customer service and the breadth of product offering in the fast growing Hispanic products market. The Company's Grocery Distribution division was the largest grocery wholesale distributor to the Hispanic population in the Midwest. The Company's Convenience Store division was one of the largest convenience store distributors in the Chicago Metropolitan Area.
The owners of Dearborn Wholesale faced several significant challenges, including the loss of a major customer, high labor costs, an aging management team, and a desire for liquidity for some shareholders. Through an initial consulting engagement, Fort Dearborn assisted the owners and the management team of Dearborn Wholesale in the evaluation of their existing operations and creating a strategic plan to maximize the proceeds to the family. The Fort Dearborn plan called for the sale of the distribution business, the real estate and equipment, and retention of Dearborn Wholesale's outlet stores. Fort Dearborn then assisted the management team with the execution of that strategic plan including the sale of the distribution business.
The distribution business was sold in two transactions, as Fort Dearborn anticipated a superior valuation would be achieved through separate transactions. The convenience store segment was sold to Eby Brown, a leading wholesale distributor of tobacco, candy and convenience products. The grocery store segment was sold to Central Grocers, a retail cooperative owned by over 400 independent supermarket retailers. The owners of Dearborn Wholesale retained their retail outlets operations ans will continue to operate them on a standalone basis. The process allowed the family to realize a significant portion of their investment, while also retaining the on-going retail outlet operations.
While the details of each engagement vary, this transaction was typical of our invesment banking focus of representing privately-held, middle market companies with valuations in excess of $10 million. Please keep us in mind for proven middle market investment banking expertise, especially in "story" transactions where our operating skills and consulting excellence lend additional value. We look forward to working with you.