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September 8, 2016

Exclusive: Look's Gourmet gets major investment, gives Maine Venture Fund another exit

File Photo / Tim Greenway Michael Cote, president and CEO of Look's Gourmet Food Co. Inc.

Look’s Gourmet Food Co. Inc. of Whiting completed a major investment and partnership transaction with Sea Watch International of Easton, Md., giving Look’s an undisclosed financial infusion and giving local investor Maine Venture Fund its second portfolio company exit this quarter.

“It’s pretty exciting to see two exits in one quarter, one in July and one in September, but we don’t expect to keep up that pace,” MVF Managing Director John Burns told Mainebiz in a phone interview this morning.

MVF was one of the investors in Coast of Maine Organic Products, which was bought in July by Gemini Investors of Wellesley, Mass.

Burns said MVF invested $300,000 in a Series B round in Look’s in 2007. A second Series B investor, SeaChange International Inc., plus other investors were involved in the sale, which closed on Sept. 2.

“We’re completely out of Look’s,” Burns said, adding that MVF saw an 11% annual internal rate of return on the deal.

The full details of both exits were not disclosed.

Look’s, which has been doing business as Bar Harbor Foods, is a nearly 100-year-old company best known for its Bar Harbor and Atlantic brand products of natural, sustainable seafood and food products like chowders. Burns said Sea Watch had been supplying the company with clams, so they’ve had a long-standing relationship.

Sea Watch operates 35 fishing vessels and four production facilities on the East Coast and is currently focused on food service and co-packing manufacturing and distribution. The new partnership with Look's lets Sea Watch expand into all natural, sustainable seafood retail grocery distribution.

Originally a family business begun in 1917, Look's assets were bought by Michael Cote in 2003. Cote, how CEO of the company, was the 2010 Mainebiz Small Business Leader of the Year award winner. He will remain in his current role at Look’s, according to a company statement.

Read more

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