Tilia Acquires VillaWare

SAN FRANCISCO— Tilia, Inc., maker of FoodSaver home vacuum packaging appliances and accessories, has acquired specialty kitchen electrics and kitchenware supplier VillaWare Manufacturing Company. The VillaWare business gives Tilia a food preparation and cooking complement to its growing FoodSaver food preservation business. Tilia plans to continue the FoodSaver brand’s focus on vacuum sealers and related vacuum packaging products for the mass market; while the VillaWare brand will remain focused on specialty electrics and kitchenware exclusively for high-end specialty chains and independent gourmet stores. Bob Vitantonio continues as president of VillaWare from its Cleveland base, and he will increase his product development role for both VillaWare and FoodSaver products. Patrick Dittoe continues in his role as VillaWare’s vp/sales, and he will coordinate with Tilia’s Scott Henrikson, vp/sales Marketing functions for both brands are being consolidated at Tilia’s headquarters here under the direction of Michael Whitcomb, chief marketing officer. VillaWare, which dates back to 1906 with the introduction by Vitantonio’s great grandfather of a patented hand-crank pasta maker, has in recent years accelerated its development of a diverse range of pro-style specialty electrics— including waffle makers and panini grills— to go with its traditional range of Italian-inspired specialty kitchenware. VillaWare also holds a licensing agreement with The Walt Disney Company for distribution of certain Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh cookware and related products. Linda Graebner, president and CEO of Tilia, said, “I am extremely excited about this partnership and the mutually beneficial synergies that both parties bring to the table. We are two businesses that have much in common. Both Tilia and VillaWare are leaders in their respective niche categories.” The combined company also looks to leverage the efficiency of shared base of administrative, financial and operational resources. Tilia was acquired in 2001 by Jarden, a diversified consumer products company in such industries as home canning, kitchen matches, retail plastic cutlery, toothpicks and rope, cord and twine. “VillaWare will continue to grow and improve within our exclusive focus to the specialty retailer trade,” Vitantonio said. “Together with Tilia, both companies will draw from a very strong, common base of management resources. We embrace the changes that are creating a solid foundation for our expanding future growth.”