News Column

Nature's Bakery wins bid to buy Theodoro Bakery

February 18, 2014

By Lisa Brown, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Feb. 18--The assets of Theodoro Bakery, a nearly century-old commercial baker in Hazelwood, have been sold to Nature's Bakery, which plans to retain Theodoro's employees and expand its local workforce.

Bankruptcy Judge Kathy Surratt-States approved the $4 million sale Tuesday afternoon after Reno, Nev.-based Nature's Bakery emerged as the sole bidder.

The judge also ruled that recipes for Miss Hulling's branded products, which were licensed to Theodoro for more than a decade, were not part of the sale.

Dan Apted, president of Apted-Hulling Inc., had filed an objection to Theodoro's sale, seeking to ensure the recipes formulated by his grandmother, the late Florence Hulling Apted, were not included in the sale to Nature's Bakery.

Theodoro, which was founded in 1917, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August, after a move to a new 117,000-square-foot facility and the loss of a grocery customer strained its finances, according to president and owner Mike Daniels. Its annual sales had declined from $12.3 million in 2007 to about $7 million in 2013.

The sale to Nature's Bakery will allow the business to continue to operate.

"We make over 450 deliveries a day in St. Louis, and there will be no interruption in service," Daniels said.

The sale could close by the end of this week, Bonnie Clair, an attorney representing Theodoro, said at the hearing held in downtown St. Louis.

Nature's Bakery plans to make fig bars, breads and other baked goods at Theodoro's Hazelwood facility. Nature's Bakery owner and president Dave Marson said the company plans to add 100 employees in the first year of ownership and an additional 100 employees in its second year of ownership. The fig bars are sold at retailers, including Sam's Club.

"It's a beautiful facility and centrally located in the U.S., close to access to flour, sugars and grains," Marson said.

With the judge's ruling that an oral agreement between Apted-Hulling and Theodoro was not part of the sale to Nature's Bakery, Apted said he'll seek to find another local baker to make Miss Hulling's cakes and other baked goods that have a loyal customer base.

There were five Miss Hulling's restaurants in the St. Louis area at one time, but all have since closed. Miss Hulling's Cafeteria, which occupied the northwest corner of 11th and Locust streets downtown for more than a half-century, closed in 1993.

Apted said he didn't expect a disruption in the supply of Miss Hulling's products, which are available at local grocer Straub's Markets.

"We're going to find another baker to maintain the quality standards of Miss Hulling's," he said.


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Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

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