The funding round – which was also supported by Range Light LLC, among others – will help BOBO’s (which notched up sales of $8m in 2015) expand its presence in coffee shops, c-stores, natural food retailers, and supermarkets, said CEO TJ McIntyre, who took the helm in December 2015 and has since helped increase distribution from 2,500 to 5,000 stores.
We are talking to several of the top six coffee chains in the country
He told FoodNavigator-USA: “[Founder] Beryl [Stafford] started out in 2003 and basically bootstrapped this business with a bit of debt financing along the way. She took the slow and steady approach and didn’t bring on any outside investors until now. But now we’re expanding aggressively.
“There are so many premier retailers from Fred Meyer to Wegmans that we don’t conduct any business with yet, but we also feel that we can still significantly increase our business with key partners like Whole Foods, H.E.B., Kroger, Sprouts and Safeway, where we want to double our business with our current product selection. Our Amazon business is also taking off.
“We're talking to several of the top six coffee chains in the country and continue to do well with the regional players," added McIntyre, who previously headed up the natural brands division at Boulder Brands. "The top five brand names in coffee only make up about a third of the doors, and we’ve worked tirelessly to pick up those accounts at coffee shows.”
Along with the new funding, BOBO’s has also taken on three highly experienced new team members in recent months including former Kraft and Vosges Haut -Chocolat exec Cheryl Christian (VP sales), former Crocs exec Mark Borden (VP finance), and former Clif Bar exec Colin Berry (director of food service sales), he said.
“We’ve got an amazingly talented team with capabilities to bring us up to well over $100m in revenue.”
There’s not a nutrition bar in this country that pairs with a latte better than BOBO’s
While a whole BOBO’s original oat bar [which contains two servings] contains 360 calories and 18g of sugar, it is extremely satiating, contains ingredients that everyone can understand (oats, sugar, oil), and pairs perfectly with coffee, he said.
“There might be bars that will help you lose weight or ensure you have an extreme amount of protein, but if you want to sit down and have a bar and a latte, BOBO’s is by far away the best choice.
“We’ve got an amazingly talented team with the capabilities to bring us up to well over $100m in revenue.” TJ McIntrye, CEO, BOBO's
“If you eat a 1.5oz nutrition bar it won’t tide you over for a meaningful period of time, whereas BOBO’s will. We’re competing in a category that’s very engineered; where products are intimately formulated to land on the 50 yard line of a Nutrition Facts statement, but consumers see BOBO’s as real whole nutrition – something they could make in their kitchen with oats, sugar and fat. It’s like Mom walked over from the oven holding a baking tray.
“There’s no way in a million years you’d be able to make most nutrition bars on the market in your own kitchen.”
Strong velocity growth as well as distribution gains
While the brand is predicting significant distribution growth this year, however, it is also generating more business from existing accounts, he said.
“We’re experiencing a great increase in velocity as our new branding has rolled out nationally in the beginning of December. On a shipment basis we are up 100% in the last 12 weeks and it’s not due to the dramatic increase in our distribution.
“We’ve revamped the packaging and improved a third of the formulas. It’s simple things, so instead of using deep-fried banana chips in our banana chocolate chip oat bar, we are now using Barnana’s slow ripened banana pieces and consumers love it. In the products with chocolate chips, we’ve cooled our oat base before adding them so they don’t melt into the bar anymore. We’ve also increased the protein in the almond butter bars to 8g per serving.”
We perform far better in the nutrition bar set than the cereal bar set
As for merchandising, while BOBO’s has been placed in the cereal and breakfast bar set in some stores, he said, “We sell 50-75% better on a velocity basis when we are in the nutrition bar section.”