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Acquisition bolsters consumer & retail coverage capabilities and expands east coast presence

Cascadia Capital, LLC, one of the nation’s most active independent middle-market investment banks, today announced that it will acquire Threadstone Capital, a leading advisor to high-growth consumer, retail, and beauty brands. Threadstone’s investment banking team, led by Managing Director William Susman, will join Cascadia’s Consumer, Retail & E-Commerce group. This addition strengthens Cascadia’s industry breadth in several key verticals, including apparel, accessories, footwear, beauty, personal care, pet, and home design, and marks the firm’s ongoing growth with the addition of a new office in New York City.  

Michael Butler, Chairman & CEO of Cascadia, expressed excitement about the acquisition, stating, “Billy Susman is someone I have long admired, and I am thrilled to welcome him and the talented team at Threadstone to Cascadia. We have been looking to grow our Consumer & Retail practice and open a New York office, and with this transaction we accomplish both objectives.”

“Adding a team of Threadstone’s caliber and industry focus will broaden and complement the exceptional service we deliver to the business owners and investors we advise. Billy and his team have a proven track record and demonstrated passion for the business. Their commitment to excellence and client-focused, collaborative approach fit extremely well with Cascadia’s culture,” added Mr. Butler.

Founded in 2011, Threadstone Capital established itself as a trusted advisor to businesses and financial sponsors throughout the consumer space. Known for its innovative approach and deep industry knowledge, Threadstone has closed over $5 billion in cumulative transaction value for clients.

On joining Cascadia, Mr. Susman noted, “I am very proud of our team’s accomplishments to date and this partnership represents the next chapter of growth for our franchise. Cascadia offers a national footprint and broader resources to further assist our consumer & retail client base in executing their strategic objectives.”

“Michael and his team are building one of the most impressive independent investment banking platforms in the country, and I'm excited that my team can contribute our unique insights and expertise to that effort," Mr. Susman added.

This transaction comes at an exciting time for Cascadia, as the firm looks to build on recent momentum and fuel continued product, industry, coverage, and geographic scaling of the platform following the strategic investment from Atlas Merchant Capital at the end of 2022.

“We have worked hard to build a national Consumer, Retail & E-Commerce practice at Cascadia over the past decade and I am thrilled to extend the exceptional capabilities of the entire Threadstone team to Cascadia's clients," said James Cartales, Cascadia Managing Director in the Consumer group. “Threadstone's experience working with best-in-class brands and clients across the fashion, luxury, and beauty industries adds a new dimension to our industry coverage while bolstering other areas of our existing coverage and we believe the combination with the Cascadia platform will enable us to better serve all of our family, founder, and institutional clients.”

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Billy Susman most recently was the founder of Threadstone Capital a New York based boutique investment bank focused on the consumer and retail sectors. Threadstone Capital closed $5.0 billon in transaction value since inception in 2011. Previously he has worked at Salomon Brothers, Merrill Lynch and served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Financo.

In January of 2024, Billy sold Threadstone to Cascadia Capital and merged his team’s operations onto the Cascadia platform. Cascadia with 100 plus bankers across seven offices nationwide affords our client base a larger platform with greater reach and deeper resources. This transition allows Billy to prioritize and focus exclusively on clients and strategic transactions. Mr. Susman serves as a Managing Director in Cascadia’s New York office and a senior member of the Consumer, Retail and E-Commerce group.
Over nearly 30 years of advising clients, Mr. Susman has completed transactions for Collective Brands, Jones, Kellwood, Li & Fung, Nike, Nordstrom’s, Pacific Sunwear, Spencer’s Holdings and Wolverine. Additionally, he has maintained deep relationships with key industry private equity clients including Angelo Gordon, Apax, Apollo, Goode Partners, Gordon Brothers, Irving Place Capital, LNK Partners, Sun Capital, and Texas Pacific Group.

Billy received a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Michigan and an M.B.A. from the Kellogg School at Northwestern. He resides in New York City with his wife Emily Glasser and has two adult daughters.

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As a Managing Director at Cascadia Capital, Ilya Seglin is focused on client relationships in the Beauty & Personal Care sectors. In this role, he advises companies on sell-side and buy-side transactions as well as leading growth capital raises for emerging brands.

Prior to joining the Cascadia Capital team, Ilya spent nine years as a Managing Director at Threadstone Capital, a boutique M&A advisory firm focused exclusively on the consumer industry. Prior to Threadstone, he operated a consulting practice focusing on the beauty, apparel and accessories sectors and was engaged by such clients as The Estée Lauder Companies.

Ilya began his investment banking career at Credit Suisse, where he worked with clients across the retail and consumer landscape to develop and execute M&A strategy, raise debt and equity financing, and address capital structure issues. He executed transactions for companies including The Neiman Marcus Group, PETCO Animal Supplies, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, and WhiteWave Foods, among others. Before transitioning to investment banking, Ilya spent several years as an analyst evaluating industry trends and assessing companies in the retail, leisure, and transportation industries. His experience included working on Dana Telsey’s #1 ranked All-America Research team at Bear Stearns and covering the luxury goods sector. Ilya received his B.A. in Economics from New York University.

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The Consumer, Retail & Ecommerce group has extensive industry knowledge and investment banking experience delivering M&A and capital raising services to our clients. Our team has a deep understanding of the underlying consumer trends driving disruptive change in our core sectors of focus. We are in constant dialogue with active strategic and financial buyers and investors in the consumer sector, providing us with the ability to best position our clients for an optimal outcome.

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James is a Managing Director in Cascadia’s Consumer, Retail, and E-Commerce practice. In this role he focuses on advising retailers and omnichannel branded consumer companies on mergers and acquisitions, recapitalizations and private placements.

As a founding member of the firm’s Consumer practice, he has been involved with the execution of most of the firm’s marquee retail and branded consumer transactions. Throughout his career he has personally completed over 45 transactions worth billions of dollars of combined enterprise value. He has a particular focus on the intersection of consumer products and services and the evolving retail channels by which they are marketed and sold.

James holds a B.A. from Bucknell University where he graduated magna cum laude and is a FINRA registered representative, holding the Series 79 and 63 licenses.

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Cascadia Capital, an investment bank serving middle market clients globally, today announced it acted as the exclusive financial advisor to C-A-L Ranch Stores, a leading farm and ranch retailer with 33 locations across Idaho, Utah, Nevada and Arizona, in its merger with Coastal Farm & Ranch, a leading ranch and country lifestyle retailer with 21 locations in the Pacific Northwest. Nolan Capital, current majority partner of Coastal, retains a majority stake in the combined business, which will now operate 54 retail locations across 6 states with over 2,200 associates.

Founded in 1959, C-A-L Ranch is a category-leading ranch and lifestyle retailer for a growing population of country lifestyle shoppers, outdoor enthusiasts, pet owners, hobby farmers and more. There are great synergies between C-A-L and Coastal and over one hundred years of successful farm and ranch retail experience collectively.

“Building C-A-L Ranch into the company it is today has been a great accomplishment by our team, and I am proud of our support for the communities we serve,” said Jerry Ward, majority owner of C-A-L. “This decision was made with the utmost care for my family, our employees and the company’s future. We are excited about the combination of two great companies and I am confident this business is set up for continued success.”

The combination of these two great businesses creates an enormous amount of value and opportunity. We are thrilled to be partnering with Jerry and Tom who have built C-A-L Ranch into a leading player and best-in-class operator in the farm and ranch retail industry,” said Peter Nolan, Chairman of Nolan Capital.

“Farm and ranch lifestyle retail has been the fastest-growing physical retail channel over the past decade. This unique business combination creates a significant regional footprint in the Western United States with exceptional operating capabilities. The combined business is poised to continue to grow into a national platform and become a key consolidator in the channel,” said James Cartales, Managing Director of Cascadia Capital.

The transaction represents another successful deal for Cascadia in the retail sector. Past transactions include the recapitalization of Three Bears Alaska and the sale of Second Ave Value Stores.

For more information about this transaction, please contact a Cascadia Capital Consumer, Retail, and E-commerce team member:

James Cartales
Managing Director
jcartales@cascadiacapital.com
(206) 436-2526

Sanaz Memarsadeghi
Vice President
SMemarsadeghi@cascadiacapital.com
(206) 436-2591

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Cascadia Capital, an investment bank serving middle market clients globally, today announced it acted as the exclusive financial advisor to Three Bears Alaska (“Three Bears”), a family-owned retailer selling groceries, fuel, and other essential products, in its recapitalization by Westward Partners, a Seattle-based private equity firm that invests in leading Northwest companies.

Founded with one store in Tok, Alaska in 1980, Three Bears has grown over the past four decades to become one of Alaska’s largest family-owned retailers. Operating multiple store formats throughout Alaska and Montana, the Company has experienced significant growth over the past five years with a strong pipeline for continued expansion into underserved markets. The owners of Three Bears were interested in bringing on a financial partner to help facilitate future growth and provide liquidity to certain shareholders while maintaining a commitment to the Company’s historical mission. Furthermore, after the investment by Westward Partners, Three Bears Alaska remains majority owned by Alaskans.

Cascadia was engaged to find a partner for Three Bears that understood its growth potential and aligned with its core operating values. With our deep knowledge of the Alaskan market and a strong understanding of the drivers of value for multi-unit retailers, Cascadia recognized Three Bears’ unique position in the market and targeted investors, such as Westward Partners, who would appreciate and share a commitment to addressing community needs with fair pricing and quality service.

“Success in Alaska requires operational flexibility and exceptional market knowledge,” noted James Cartales, Managing Director in Cascadia Capital’s Consumer & Retail practice.  “Three Bears Alaska is a best-in-class retailer with a unique competitive moat and Cascadia was pleased to help enable its next phase of growth. The Westward team brings a strong partnership approach, a track record in Alaska and were a pleasure to collaborate with throughout the transaction process as they worked hard to complete this transaction smoothly.”

“The Cascadia team understood our brand story, the Alaskan market and the unique challenges we face on a daily basis,” said Dave Weisz, President and CEO of Three Bears. “Cascadia effectively conveyed our value proposition, identified a new steward of the Three Bears brand and advised us through a successful transaction with mutually beneficial terms.”

The acquisition represents another successful multi-unit retail transaction for Cascadia. Past transactions include the sale of Northwest Motorsports, the sale of 2nd Ave Value Stores, and the growth equity financing of SkinSpirit. Additionally, Three Bears is also another Alaska-based client that we were pleased to support. Cascadia sees great opportunity in the Alaskan market across the various industry verticals we serve.

For more information about this transaction, please contact the Cascadia Capital deal team:

James Cartales
Managing Director
(206) 436-2526
jcartales@cascadiacapital.com

Thomas Newbern
Vice President
(206) 436-2552
tnewbern@cascadiacapital.com

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Cascadia Capital is pleased to announce the promotion of James Cartales to Managing Director in the firm’s Consumer & Retail group. As a Managing Director, Mr. Cartales will continue to provide M&A advisory and equity capital raising services to founder and family-owned companies across the ecommerce, experiential retail, and consumer services sectors.

Mr. Cartales joined Cascadia Capital in 2013 and has been involved in over 40 transactions over the last nine years at the firm. During that time, he has played a central role in Cascadia’s marquee consumer transactions, such as the sale of Air Waves to Hybrid Apparel, the sale of 2nd Ave Value Stores to BRS & Co. and Rosser Capital Partners, and Flagship Food Group’s recapitalization of La Tortilla Factory.

“James has been an integral leader of the firm for many years and has steered some of Cascadia’s largest and most complex transactions,” noted Michael Butler, Cascadia Capital Chairman & CEO. “He is tremendously deserving of this promotion and has long displayed the expertise and capabilities necessary to serve our consumer clients with the highest caliber, trusted advice and support.”

As a founding member of the Consumer & Retail practice, Mr. Cartales has been instrumental in reshaping the firm’s consumer focus, particularly in light of COVID-19’s evolving impact on the retail sector.

“We believe Consumer & Retail will continue to be a vibrant industry for Cascadia’s investment banking platform. However, the sector has undergone significant change over the past three years,” added Bryan Jaffe, Cascadia Managing Director. “James is highly knowledgeable about consumer behavior and has deep expertise in the business models that are resonating today and will likely continue to resonate in the foreseeable future, in particular within apparel and accessories and home furnishings. Additionally, his experience in unit-economic models is applicable to both the physical and digital channels that our clients sell through.”

"I am honored to receive this promotion and look forward to continuing to contribute to Cascadia’s long term growth objectives by effectively serving our exceptional clients,” Mr. Cartales added.

James Cartales is based in Cascadia’s Seattle office and serves Cascadia's consumer clients across the U.S. For more information, visit his bio here.

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Rural Retail: The Next Frontier for Four-Wall Investment

What’s Now?

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an outsized impact on the retail landscape. The virus and associated responses to it have reshaped consumer behavior and accelerated long-term secular shifts in the market. Fear of viral transmission in highly trafficked indoor shopping environments, government-mandated store closures, and the economic reality of the COVID recession are all contributing to changes in shopper behaviors—posing unique challenges and presenting unique opportunities to nimble retailers.

Essential merchants selling food, staples, and household supplies across different retail formats are seeing gains from our collective shift toward the “stay-at-home” lifestyle. Rural retailers—arguably the most essential of merchants—provide basic supplies and provisions for people, livestock, and companion animals in less densely-populated communities in all 50 states which are not well-served by the “on-demand” economy. Tractor Supply Company (TSC), a notable rural retailer with an estimated 50% market share in the farm and feed segment according to IBIS, has been the fastest-growing publicly listed four-wall retailer over the past decade, achieving a 10% revenue CAGR since 2009. Following on the heels of 4.3% comp sales growth in Q1, TSC is forecasting 20%-25% comp sales growth in Q2.

In the deep discount segment, Dollar General, which skews toward a heavier rural footprint than its primary competitor, has demonstrated a similar trend, growing at a 9.4% revenue CAGR over the past decade compared with Dollar Tree’s 6.6% CAGR (adjusted for its 2014 merger with Family Dollar). Similar performance trends have been proven out in the home improvement category with Lowe’s (skews rural) vs. Home Depot (skews urban).

It is too soon to tell with certainty if COVID-driven urban flight will permanently alter population migration trends, but rural retailers can continue to grow with a prudent strategy focusing on localized merchandising, superior customer service, and structural cost advantages. Much of the rural retail customer base is comprised of “hobby farmers” and lifestyle enthusiasts who value knowledgeable customer service associates and rely on them for product guidance. According to Census Bureau data, approximately 58 million people are living in rural communities while there are only approximately 2 million working farms. According to the USDA, U.S. farm households have a median household income approximately 15% higher than the country as a whole. With lower costs of living, rural consumers have meaningfully higher discretionary purchasing power.

What’s Next?

We expect growth trends in the rural retail category to accelerate in a post-COVID-19 world. Rural retailers are poised to benefit from macro trends supporting the expansion of remote working environments and remote education, which have both been accelerated by the onset of COVID and quarantine measures adopted in response to it. Many city dwellers are beginning to see the appeal of exurban and rural lifestyles, and more large corporate employers are permanently granting their employees remote working flexibility. While we do not forecast a return to the Jeffersonian ideal of an agrarian nation of citizen farmers, we do expect a material shift in population dispersion favoring lower-density communities in rural areas.

Despite the favorable demographic outlook, rural retail is not immune to competitive challenges, and operators will need to reinvest in their companies to remain competitive over the long haul.

The broad secular shift toward e-commerce and its negative impact on traditional urban and suburban retail environments have been well-documented long before anyone had ever heard of COVID-19—we all know the story of malls and department stores falling out of favor as consumers shop online from the comfort of their own homes. Shelter-in-place orders and mandatory store closures brought on by the pandemic have only turbocharged these trends.

Fortunately for rural retailers, internet penetration and usage within rural populations have historically lagged urban communities, providing a real “moat” to the business model; however, rural internet usage is beginning to reach parity with urban usage and consumer shopping behavior will continue its inexorable march online. As former urbanites flock to rural areas, they will bring their existing shopping habits with them.

Additionally, widely dispersed populations present major logistical and profitability challenges for speedy e-commerce fulfillment, giving physical retailers with product on their shelves an opening to win business in smaller communities. However, ongoing investments in logistics and fulfillment technologies (driven in large part by Amazon and Walmart) will lower the profitability hurdles associated with serving rural communities.

Rural retailers must develop and implement effective omnichannel strategies and the associated technologies necessary to support those strategies with digital marketing, integrated inventory management, online purchasing, and fulfillment capabilities, including buy-online, pick-up in-store (BOPIS).

Independents and regional chains comprise 50% of the farm and feed retail segment. Most of these businesses remain locally owned by families and founders. Consolidation is going to be necessary to compete and gain scale. Companies will need to be capitalized appropriately to roll-up competitors and keep up with the digital expectations of customers. For all the foregoing reasons, we anticipate a wave of investment in the sector as rural retail becomes the next frontier for retail industry investing.

What’s Your Why?

We seek to help our clients find the capital provider partner with whom they have the most chemistry, the best alignment, and the same values. We maintain a constant dialogue with institutional investors focused on retail business models—we know how they think, and we know who will be the best fit for our clients’ specific goals. Scaling a business is hard, and unanticipated events like COVID-19 provide a perfect example of why choosing the right partner is critical. To us, there is a great sense of pride when we can align partners who share the same vision to create a business success.


About the Authors

James Cartales, Managing Director, Consumer & Retail
James is a  Managing Director in Cascadia’s Consumer & Retail practice. In this role, he focuses on advising branded consumer companies on mergers and acquisitions, recapitalizations, and private placements. As a founding member of the firm’s Consumer & Retail practice, he has been closely involved with the execution of most of the firm’s marquee branded transactions. Throughout his career, he has completed over 35 transactions. He has a particular focus on the intersection of consumer products and services and the evolving retail channels by which they are marketed and sold. Read James’ full bio here.

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