Woodchuck CEO: ‘I Think I Left A Lot Of Value On The Table’

Earlier this morning, Vermont Hard Cider Company LLC – maker of Woodchuck Hard Cider – announced it would sell to the Irish cider company, C&C group, for $305 million.

Vermont Hard Cider’s president and CEO, Bret Williams, spoke to members of the media this afternoon during a conference call.

Williams said he received the unsolicited offer from C&C in August and didn’t shop it around to any other potential buyers. Vermont Hard Cider will generate over $70 million in revenue in 2012, making today’s deal worth approximately four times its annual earnings revenue. But Williams still thinks he could have made more.

“I think I left a lot of value on the table,” he said. “We didn’t shop it around but I know we could have received a higher value.”

Still, he said, he doesn’t deny feeling “pretty good” about $305 million.

“I think it is a very aggressive offer,” he said. “If this were a large global brewer like MillerCoors or AB-InBev, I wouldn’t have sold. They offered a quick exit that was painless.”

Williams said C&C’s “deep pockets” will bring Vermont Hard Cider more resources and allow the company to add additional sales and marketing staff. It will also allow for additional investment into the company’s already announced expansion, taking the project from $24 million to roughly $30 million. Williams said it will probably include more office space, warehouse space and add between 30 and 35 new jobs.

The acquisition is still awaiting regulatory approvals, but Williams is hopeful the deal will close before the end of the year.

Williams and a small group of investors purchased the brand for $2.3 million in 2003 when the company sold just 700,000 cases that year. The company has since quadrupled production and is on pace to ship just under 4 million cases in 2012, representing 25 percent growth year-to-date.

  • Jim K

    What a great product line that grew in the old school method of pounding it out at street level and then on to chains. Congrats to Bret and his family. Hats off also to Tom Bradford, one of the single most dominant charging leaders any company could hire. He was a major reason this brand grew year after year.

  • Jason Mitchell

    If the company has $70 million in revenue, then the $305 mil purchase price is not “approximately four times its annual earnings” it’s approximately four times revenue. He probably got more like 40 to 50 times annual earnings. Two VERY different things revenue and earnings. Sounds to me like he got top dollar for the brand.