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Brothers Don and Rick Haggen and their families, owners of regional independent Haggen, Inc., have sold a majority ownership position in the company to private investment firm The Comvest Group.
The Bellingham, Wash.-based grocer plans to remain independent. “The Comvest Group’s investment in Haggen will maximize our potential and allow us to strengthen our market share in the highly competitive grocery industry,” said Don Haggen. “We are looking forward to serving our customers and remaining closely connected to our community for another 78 years.”
Don and Rick Haggen are the sons of Ben and Dorothy Haggen, who founded the company in 1933. They most recently served as co-chairmen of the company’s board. The Haggen family is retaining a significant minority ownership stake in the company and will continue to be involved in its operations.
Comvest is a private investment firm focused on providing equity and debt capital to lower middle-market companies. Since 1988, Comvest has invested more than $2 billion of capital in over 200 public and private companies worldwide.
“We have been very impressed with the exceptional quality and customer service we have found in the Haggen and TOP Foods stores,” said John Caple, a managing director of Comvest. “The company has a long history of innovation and community involvement; we look forward to continuing that legacy.”
The Haggen management team will remain in place with the exception of CEO and president Jim Donald, who is stepping down, but will continue to serve as an advisor to the company. Donald has led the company since October 2009.
“Jim Donald led this company during some of the most challenging economic times our industry has faced,” Rick Haggen said. “He made some tough decisions to make us leaner and better equipped to survive this recession. We are grateful for all of his many contributions.”
Clarence J. Gabriel has been named president and CEO of the company. Gabriel has over 25 years of senior leadership success in the consumer retail, supply chain management, and manufacturing sectors. He has served in senior positions at several companies, including Albertsons and Pepsi-Cola North America.
“The Haggen family, store managers and employees have built a wonderful legacy,” said Gabriel. “We have good momentum that we intend to build on in the months to come.”
Gabriel added that the company’s headquarters will remain in Bellingham.
Haggen, Inc. operates 30 supermarkets in Washington and Oregon under the Haggen Food & Pharmacy and TOP Food & Drug names. It’s the largest independent grocer and sixth-largest private company based in the State of Washington.