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Organic Avenue gets squeezed, then sold

August 5, 2015, 3:56 PM UTC
Martin Bates in New York.
An employee stocks shelves at Organic Avenue in New York, April 23, 2013. Martin Bates has recently been brought into Organic Avenue to help extend the brand?s appeal across the country, the way he turned around Pret a Manger's once-faltering U.S. business operations. (Michael Falco /The New York Times)
Photograph by Michael Falco — The New York Times/Redux

New York-based “grab and go” juice and sandwich chain Organic Avenue has a new owner, Fortune has learned.

Turnaround investment firm Vested Capital Partners has acquired Organic Avenue from Weld North, a private equity firm founded by former Kaplan Inc. CEO Jonathan Grayer in partnership with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR). Weld North originally acquired a minority stake in June 2012, and then upped its stake to around 70% in early 2013. Several months later it added former Pret A Manger president Martin Bates as CEO.

But things didn’t go quite as expected, with Organic Avenue last year closing two of its 12 stores and replacing Bates with chief financial officer Anthony Tomaro. Then came word of layoffs, at around the same time that Weld North quietly began searching for a buyer. There was at least one interested suitor, but Weld North was unable to get the deal done. Finally it turned to Vested Capital Partners in a transaction that involves virtually no up-front capital, but the possibility of Weld North recouping some of its money via earn-outs.

In its only comment on the situation, Weld North emailed over the following:

Weld North owned Organic Avenue for two years, during which time the business broadened its product offerings and physical footprint. We are proud of the Organic Avenue brand and hope its new owners can build on the work we started.”

Vested Capital Partners declined to comment, while a receptionist at Organic Avenue said that Anthony Tomano is no longer with the company.

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