Dealmaker, Kevin Hedderwick, joins Real Foods ahead of a possible JSE-listing

Real Foods, the owner of Kauai, also recruits former Brait CEO Antony Ball.

Real Foods, the owner of health food chains Kauai, Nü Health Food Café and Kohu, has hired two former JSE-listed company CEOs as directors ahead of the company’s “potential future listing plans.”

Real Foods announced on Monday that it recruited Kevin Hedderwick, the former CEO of restaurant franchiser Famous Brands and Antony Ball, the former CEO of investment holding firm Brait.

Kevin has joined the Real Foods board as group strategic director while Antony has also joined the company’s board as of October 1, 2018.

Real Foods is a multi-brand group focused on natural food, taking advantage of the global trend towards health and wellness. It also owns Highveld Honey, which Real Foods said is the largest honey supplier in South Africa.  Real Foods owns over 160 stores under its Kauai, Nü Health Food Café and Kohu brands. It recently introduced a range of Kauai retail products into Checkers stores.

Dean Kowarski, Real Foods CEO, said the company is delighted to welcome both Kevin and Antony to the board as the business continues to experience strong organic growth and also embarks on an acquisitive growth strategy.

“It is a compliment to us and our business model that Kevin, who is so highly respected in the food industry, has chosen to join Real Foods above the many options available to him,” Dean said in a statement.

“Kevin believes that the growth of the natural foods sector is exceptional and that Real Foods is best positioned to take advantage of this growth. Kevin is a highly experienced and well-regarded business leader and we have no doubt that his expertise will bolster the ambitious growth and potential future listing plans that we have for the group,” he said.

Kevin is credited with turning the Steers Holdings family business, with a market capitalisation of R105 million in 2000 into a R10 billion JSE-listed Famous Brands.

Famous Brands comprises a fully integrated food services business of best-in-class brands underpinned by significant manufacturing and logistics operations.

Said Kevin: “Real Foods’ passion for authentic, premium quality real foods is attractive and I am optimistic about the company’s success in a high growth segment. After spending much time in the listed corporate environment, I look forward to being part of the dynamic, agile and entrepreneurial, yet uncompromisingly results-driven culture at Real Foods.”

Antony is known as a pioneering private equity practitioner and as one of the most respected investors in South Africa, said Dean.  “During his tenure at Brait, the company successfully raised four funds, listed on the JSE and the company completed many successful transactions including Pepkor and Net1.”

Antony left Brait in 2011 to pursue other opportunities and is currently the chairman of Value Capital Partners, where he sits on the board of PPC and Altron. Dean founded Real Foods in 2013 with private equity investors including Antony.