Closely held Seventh Generation Inc. is buying a maker of reusable filtered water bottles known as bobble, the company’s first brand acquisition outside of its namesake household cleaners and baby products

May 30, 2013, 7:43 p.m. ET

Seventh Generation Picks Up Bobble Brand

In Bid to Expand Reach, Firm to Buy Filtered Water Bottle Maker

By SERENA NG

MK-CD631_Sevent_G_20130530194508

Seventh Generation, known for its household cleaners, is buying the bobble, the reusable filtered water bottle brand, for an undisclosed sum.

Closely held Seventh Generation Inc. is buying a maker of reusable filtered water bottles known as bobble, the company’s first brand acquisition outside of its namesake household cleaners and baby products.

The acquisition for an undisclosed sum comes as Seventh Generation is looking to expand into new product areas through acquisitions, said Chief Executive John Replogle. The Burlington, Vt., company is looking for more brands and consumer products that fit with its mission of healthy living and sustainability, he said.

Seventh Generation was founded 25 years ago as a catalog company and now makes plant-based cleaning products, diapers and baby wipes that it touts as safer for people and the environment. Retail sales of its products topped $200 million last year and grew in double-digit terms during the recession, Mr. Replogle said.The company recently began looking for possible acquisitions and came across bobble, which Mr. Replogle described as “one of the leading players in the on-the-go water filtration market.” Seventh Generation plans to use its relationships with retailers to make bobble bottles more prominent in stores and increase sales, he said.

Bobble water bottles, which typically retail for $9.99, contain carbon filters that can be used 300 times before the filters need to be changed, according to bobble. Currently, roughly 28 billion disposable water bottles go to the landfill annually, Seventh Generation estimates.

Seventh Generation is buying the assets of Move Collective LLC, which comprise the bobble brand. More than 12 million bobble water bottles have been sold in over 30 countries through a wide range of retailers. Competitors include Clorox Co.,CLX -0.06% which began selling Brita filtered water bottles in the U.S. in 2011, andNewell Rubbermaid Inc., NWL +0.37% which also has a line of filtered bottles.

In 2007, San Francisco venture-capital firm Catamount Ventures paid more than $10 million for a minority stake in Seventh Generation, whose other shareholders include employees and a few family investment funds. The investment valued the company at roughly $100 million at the time, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Jed Smith, a partner at Catamount, said his fund doesn’t have a specific exit strategy for Seventh Generation but believes it could one day be a public company or a possible acquisition candidate for a larger consumer-products maker.

“We’re not actively trying to sell the company. We think its peak value is several years away,” Mr. Smith said, adding that the current plan is “to grow it as large as we can.”

Seventh Generation currently has no debt and is cash flow positive, Mr. Replogle said.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: