Chicago-based private equity firm Kenex Holdings has acquired Bubbies Homemade Ice Cream & Desserts, an Aiea, Hawaii-based manufacturer of mochi ice cream.
Kenex invests on behalf of a collection of Midwest families, acquiring and growing small, private, and family-owned companies. Tree Line Capital Partners provided financing on the Bubbies purchase.
The deal represents Kenex’s second platform investment in the frozen sector, the first being Imperial Frozen Foods, a supplier of quick-frozen fruit, in 2014.
Bubbies, founded in 1985 by Keith Robbins, who remains a “significant investor,” is the leading manufacturer of premium mochi ice cream in the US, with an international footprint that includes distribution into France, Mexico, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Arab Emirates, according to a statement from Kenex.
“I believe this transaction will benefit our staff and our customers — a paramount goal of mine as I begin to transition into retirement,” Robbins said.
In October of 2015, Bubbies shuttered its Honolulu retail shop after 30 years in business. “It is with a heavy heart that we have come to this decision, but our company has transitioned from a retail establishment to being the world leader in the manufacture of mochi ice cream,” Robbins said at the time.
Rick Schaffer, most recently VP of retail sales at Grecian Delight, a manufacturer of Greek and Mediterranean food products in the US, will join as CEO. “Bubbies’ products and reputation are an ideal foundation as we position ourselves for growth,” he said.