Essentia® Water, the leading alkaline water brand in the United States, today announces that it has secured a private place-ment investment led by Castanea Partners with participation from First Beverage Ventures, which is the private equity arm of First Beverage Group, for an undisclosed amount. The investment will support the brand as it expands its distribution network, sales force, brand activation and supply capability to compete in the mainstream market-place. Essentia Water is currently the top selling bottled water brand in the natural channel; the company is poised to gain ground in traditional grocery, convenience and other consumer retail outlets. In addition to funding, Troy Stanfield, a partner at Castanea Partners, joins Essentia's newly formed board of directors.
In the $2.5 billion premium hydration category, Essentia Water is driving incremental growth. Thus far in 2014, the brand is checking in with a 66 percent sales increase across conventional grocery, specialty and natural channels. Essentia is the no. 1 selling brand in the fast growing alkaline water segment with roughly 40 percent market share. At the close of 2013, Essentia marked 10 consecutive years of growth with eight of those being in double digits, and is on track to add 2014 to the list.
"We were looking for more than just funding," said Ken Uptain, Essentia's founder and CEO. "We wanted a value-added partnership that would take us through an accelerated growth phase without losing the authenticity that our brand has created since its initial launch in 1998. With this deal, now that is exactly what we have."
In mid-2013, Essentia's exclusive financial advisor, Silverwood Partners, introduced Stanfield and Uptain. "This is an exciting opportunity for us to invest in the beverage space again," said Troy Stanfield, Partner at Castanea. "The team at Essentia has done an incredible job of positioning the Company as a leading brand within the marketplace." Castanea previously owned Fuze Beverage, prior to its sale to The Coca-Cola Company. "Essentia's steady progression and consistent performance make it an exciting brand with a bright future."
Los Angeles, California-based private equity firm First Beverage Group partner and Nantucket Nectars founder Tom First agrees. "Essentia's growth has been explosive and the brand is poised to become a powerful healthy lifestyle brand. We are excited to add our relationships and brand development expertise to an already talented team at Essentia."
In the past 12 months, Essentia has rounded out its executive leadership team with the hiring of several key beverage industry veterans as well as added to its field sales and marketing teams. The Company has added direct-store-delivery (DSD) distributors in New England and the Midwest to gain market penetration. Consumer marketing initiatives were also launched this summer in core markets, including event sponsorships and targeted sampling. Recently, Essentia kicked off its team of "Hydration Specialists" comprised of health and fitness experts in specialties like yoga, Pilates and nutrition. Since inception, Essentia Water has employed grassroots tactics to educate retail and consumer customers about the benefits of its high-pH alkaline, electrolyte-infused functional water. Authentic word of mouth has played a key role in this endeavor. This new funding enables Essentia to build on proven strategies as it expands to new markets.
The Giannuzzi Group, LLP, based in New York City, acted as legal counsel to Essentia Water LLC.