Greenwich Firm Backs Ohio-Based Pet Supplies Retailer

August 12, 2014

A Greenwich-based private equity firm has jumped into the pet products business by making what it calls a "significant investment" in an Ohio company.

Rosser Capital Partners, which counts two restaurant chains, Barteca Holdings and Hickory Tavern Holdings, in its portfolio, has added PetPeople, a Hilliard, Ohio-based pet supplies retailer, to its holdings. It did not disclose its level of investment.

PetPeople co-founders Michael and Trish Elkind will continue to lead the business, which they established in 1997 and expanded into an operation with 20 locations in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan.

"We're thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with Michael and Trish," said Jacob Organek, a founder and partner in Rosser Capital Partners. "Their commitment to customer service and unique merchandising skills has allowed them to create an outstanding brand with significant growth potential."

Rosser will play a key role in facilitating PetPeople's growth initiatives, he said.

Rosser's knowledge of the retail market and ability to finance an entrepreneurial company were key contributors to the transaction, according to PetPeople President Michael Elkind, who said PetPeople is committed to cultivating long-term relationships with its business partners, as well as customers and communities where it has stores.

Organek and Harold Rosser, founder and managing partner at Rosser Capital, are directors of PetPeople Holdings. Organek also is a director of Hickory Tavern Holdings and Barteca Holdings, operator of the Barcelona Wine Bar and bartaco chains. Rosser also is a director of Barteca Holdings, Bravo Brio Restaurant Group and Hickory Tavern Holdings.

Over the last 20-plus years, the principals of Rosser Capital have completed 25 consumer transactions, including 18 in the restaurant industry.

In conjunction with Rosser's investment in PetPeople, CIT Group, a New York City-based provider of commercial lending and leasing services, has provided a senior secured credit facility to support the Rosser-PetPeople deal. Financing was provided by CIT Bank, the U.S. commercial bank subsidiary of CIT. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

"PetPeople has built outstanding customer loyalty while delivering impressive growth," said Robert Bielinski, managing director of CIT Corporate Finance, Retail and Restaurants, adding that he expects PetPeople to continue expansion in the Midwest.

CIT understands PetPeople's growth potential, Organek said, and it developed flexible financing to facilitate the company's growth plans.

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