PhillyInc: Aramark Corp. adding another cup of coffee

Hurricane Irene survivors weren't the only ones thinking about a good cup of coffee Monday. So was Aramark Corp.

Philadelphia-based Aramark is buying the Filterfresh office-coffee business of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc., of Waterbury, Vt., for about $145 million in cash.

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Technically, what Aramark is buying is called Van Houtte USA Holdings Inc., based in Westwood, Mass. Aramark has long had a coffee business through its Aramark Refreshment Services L.L.C. unit.

In Filterfresh, Aramark is acquiring a 25-year-old company that has specialized in providing businesses with the single-cup brewing systems that are replacing the traditional two-burner coffee makers, in which the pots cook the brew into stew all morning long.

Green Mountain, which had 2010 sales of about $1.4 billion, had acquired Montreal's Van Houtte from its private-equity owners in a $905 million deal as of Dec. 17. Van Houtte sells Keurig and K-Cup coffee-brewing equipment and gourmet coffee.

At the time of the December deal, the publicly traded Green Mountain said it intended to sell the U.S. coffee-service business known as Filterfresh, which Van Houtte had bought in 1997, to reduce overlap.

Aramark is a privately held food-service giant that reported sales of $12.57 billion for its fiscal year ended Oct. 1.

On a strong day for U.S. stocks, Green Mountain shares closed at $98.71, up 80 cents or 0.8 percent.

Growth Giants

One thing that struck me about the 2011 Inc. 5000 list of fast-growing private companies was how many really big local companies made appearances, including several formerly public companies that were bought out by private-equity firms.

Burlington Coat Factory Warehouse Corp. (No. 4,837) had $3.7 billion in sales in 2010. The South Jersey discount retailer's three-year sales growth rate was just 8 percent, but that was good enough in these slow-growth times.

Wayne's SunGard Data Systems Inc. (No. 4,882) had $5 billion in sales in 2010 and had a growth rate of 6 percent. The financial software company recently announced it would divest its higher-education software business.

Horsham-based NCO Group Inc. (No. 4,246) had sales of $1.6 billion in 2010 and a 25 percent growth rate. NCO, which changed CEOs in March, is in the debt-collection industry, which, unfortunately, has been a growth business for years.


Contact columnist Mike Armstrong at 215-854-2980 or marmstrong@phillynews.com,

or @PhillyInc on Twitter. Read his blog, "PhillyInc," at www.phillyinc.biz.