Centre Sweeps Up Quickie Investment –

Centre Partners’ latest transaction has the firm thinking about spring cleaning in January. The New York-based LBO shop last month completed an investment in Quickie Manufacturing Corp., a maker of mops, brooms and other cleaning supplies. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although the firm’s equity stake fell within its standard $10 million to $50 million range.

Quickie, which was founded in 1919, takes credit for inventing the automatic sponge mop. In addition to mops and brooms, Quickie’s product line ranges from lint rollers to plungers.

For Centre Partners, the investment in Quickie follows a lineage of past dealings in the consumer product space, including acquisitions of Kaz, a maker of humidifiers, air vaporizers and other products, and Salton Inc., an appliance manufacturer best known for its George Foreman Grill.

The firm also just announced an investment in Uno Resturant Holdings, a Boston-based, Chicago style Pizza Chain.

“We checked a lot of stores-Lowes, Home Depots and others-and we found that Quickie has a very strong consumer brand. The company also has a very strong trade name and a reputation for service and innovation among the industry,” said Centre Partners Managing Director David Jaffe.

In soliciting the investment, Quickie Chairman and CEO Peter Vosbikian said the decision came down to either going public or seeking out private equity, and ultimately the latter option won out. The infusion of capital will be used for acquisitions within the space that Vosbikian said will primarily be used to build Quickie’s product line. “We have a dominant share in cleaning tools nationwide, and we see ourselves growing up the aisle in adjacent categories that are similar in nature,” he said.

Additionally, the company intends to see a pop in organic growth as well, spurred by innovation and new product rollouts. Quickie has more than 60 patents in the cleaning product space, already, including its latest creation, a bucket on wheels.

To finance the investment, Centre Partners used equity from its Centre Capital Investors IV, LP fund, a $750 million vehicle that the firm raised in 2003. Key Bank was the lead lender in the transaction, providing a senior credit facility with help from Merrill Lynch and National City. Norwest Mezzanine also chipped in with a mezzanine tranche.

Sawaya Segales & Co. acted as advisor to Quickie on the transaction.