Iconic weight loss and meal replacement brand, with #1 brand awareness in the weight loss category
SlimFast is an iconic weight loss and meal replacement brand with #1 brand awareness in the weight loss category. For over 40 years, SlimFast has helped millions of Americans take control of their diet, lose weight and keep it off. In addition to the flagship SlimFast brand, SlimFast/HNS (“SlimFast”) has a collection of brands including Healthy Delights, Nu-Therapy, Power Beets, and Teatopia that provide a variety of condition specific benefits ranging from weight management to sports nutrition beauty and digestive health.
The Value Creation Opportunity
The Kainos team was introduced to Chris Tisi, founder of Heathy Natural Solutions (“HNS”), in 2013. Chris was looking for a partner to help him further develop his brands and scale his business. While engaging with Chris to make an investment in HNS, Unilever made the decision to divest SlimFast. We quickly worked together with Chris to make an offer to Unilever and create a turnaround plan for SlimFast, which had declined from a peak of $850 million of sales to $140 million.
Our goal was to return the SlimFast brand to growth and profitability while leveraging a combined SlimFast/HNS platform to develop on-trend brands within the portfolio. Unilever valued the Kainos team’s industry knowledge and relationships in the health and wellness sector, and experience with brand turnarounds such as Vlasic Pickles and Hungry-Man. Kainos and Chris Tisi presented our vision for the SlimFast brand to Unilever and we were selected as their preferred partner. Both HNS and SlimFast were acquired contemporaneously in 2014.
Change Capital At Work
While HNS was a small emerging company with only 13 employees, SlimFast came with no employees and no systems.
Within months of acquiring SlimFast, we utilized our Kainos industry network and made over 40 new hires, including a CFO, VP Sales, VP Marketing, VP Supply Chain, a regional sales force, marketing and brand development support, and a 12-person team to run the SlimFast UK business. We also successfully implemented a new IT system and developed a third-party warehouse and distribution solution soon thereafter.
In conjunction with the team, we also had to simultaneously reposition the SlimFast brand as “diet season” was quickly approaching. We worked daily with our key retail partners to reclaim the SlimFast heritage and make the brand relevant again. Together, management and Kainos developed new packaging across the product range, including a new bottle for the ready-to-drink products. We also began to leverage the library of clinical studies to make product claims on the packaging and bottle such as “Up to 4 Hours Hunger Control” and “Clinically Proven.”
Working with our innovation team, we launched 15 new SKUs in 2016, including high protein shakes and powders, upgraded meal bars, and 100-calorie snacks, leading to new SKUs at a number of different retail partners including Walmart, Kroger, and Meijer with a total of 135,000 new product facings on the shelf. In 2018, SlimFast launched a SlimFast RTD coffee beverage, SlimCafe, which took the SlimFast brand to a new section of the store – the beverage aisle.
We aggressively bid out all key outsourced manufacturing contracts we had assumed from Unilever. Upon completion of this extensive process, SlimFast garnered significant savings in manufacturing, supply chain and distribution.
The Kainos Effect
After returning SlimFast to profitability and becoming the fastest growing brand in its category during our partnership, we sold the business in 2018 to Glanbia Plc, a global nutrition group headquartered in Ireland.Back