Comvita, a Manuka honey and supplements maker based in New Zealand, has entered a strategic partnership in North America with Caravan.
Caravan is a joint venture with Los Angeles-headquartered entertainment and sports agency Creative Artists Agency, which has offices across the US and also in China, the UK, Sweden, Germany and Switzerland.
Wellington-listed Comvita, which sells its Manuka honey and honey-based cider vinegar online under its own label, said the “exact details of timing and products are commercially sensitive, but we look forward to sharing more details in due course.”
With offices in the US and Canada – Los Angeles and British Columbia – Caravan describes itself as “makers of bespoke consumer brands and companies, backed by data and co-founded with people of influence”. It was co-founded by Leonard Brody (chairman) and Michael Yanover (board member) and is headed up by CEO Pauline Moller.
Its website notes a portfolio consisting of exercise platform Fit52, Love Nala cat food, Hai in-home spa systems and “interactive mobile gaming experience” Blueline Studios.
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Brody is an entrepreneur, venture capitalist and co-owner of the UK soccer team Coventry City. He is also a founder of Vancouver-based technology firm GrowLab and president of another tech business Clarity Digital in Denver, according to his LinkedIn page.
Yanover describes himself on LinkedIn as a “creative business builder” and is head of business development at Creative Artists Agency.
“Caravan identifies white spaces in popular culture and entertainment trends to ideate, co-found and develop transformative direct-to-consumer products, technology and companies for highly engaged pop culture audiences in partnership with Creative Artists Agency,” according to a statement today (6 September) from Comvita.
Comvita CEO David Banfield said: “At Comvita, we are relentless in looking for opportunities to extend our global leadership. Our partnership with Caravan, and its celebrity reach, has some significant and far-reaching benefits for Comvita.
“Despite the progress we have made recently, the benefits of Manuka honey and Propolis are relatively unknown in North America. Our partnership with Caravan will amplify the awareness and benefits of Manuka Honey and Propolis through the eyes of celebrities who turn to Comvita for solutions.”
Banfield joined what was then a loss-making Comvita as CEO in January 2020 following a business review launched the previous June. At the time, Comvita wanted to assess “under-performing assets of the business, as well as structural, balance sheet, leadership and organisation considerations”.
That review concluded in a statement from Comvita, also in January 2020: “The strategic review identified that Comvita had to refocus in order to drive long-term, sustainable value.”
In February 2020, Comvita then unveiled a NZD15m (US$9.4m then) transformation plan with Banfield at the helm to boost margins and cut costs, and also announced a capital-raising exercise to “build resilience” for the business.
The capital raise was then put on the back burner in March last year as demand for health and wellness products increased due to Covid-19. However, it then went on to announce and complete a NZD50m equity raise.
Last month, Comvita announced its full-year results to 30 June and said in the commentary: “We have now completed our restructuring process. Our attention now fully focuses on optimisation and creating an aligned performance driven culture at Comvita.”
Revenues for the year dropped 2.1% to NZD191.7m. EBITDA rose to NZD25.5m from NZD21.3m a year earlier. Comvita delivered a reported profit after tax of NZD9.5m versus a NZD9.7m loss in the corresponding period.
The company’s website says it has offices in Santa Barbara, California, and also in the UK, Australia, Hong Kong, China, South Korea and Japan.
A spokesperson for Comvita confirmed most of the company’s manufacturing is conducted out of New Zealand, with the exception of its olive leaf extract, which is produced in Australia. The remaining global offices are for its sales and marketing operations.