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REV: MARCH 1, 2010

ERIK STAFFORD JOEL L. HEILPRIN JEFFREY DEVOLDER

Hansson Private Label, Inc.: Evaluating an Investment in Expansion
Introduction
On a frigid Sunday night in late February 2008, Tucker Hansson pored over a proposal developed by his firm’s manufacturing team. It called for investing $50 million to expand production capacity at Hansson Private Label (Hansson or HPL). For Hansson, a private company, this would be a significant investment. The company had not initiated a project of that magnitude for more than a decade, and the expansion wasn’t without significant risk. It would be likely to double HPL’s debt and to greatly increase customer concentration. This was a critical juncture for the firm Tucker Hansson had carefully built over 15 years. He wondered whether the return on investment would be large enough to justify the effort and risk. He also wondered about the best means of evaluating the potential investment. HPL manufactured personal care products—soap, shampoo, mouthwash, shaving cream, sunscreen, and the like—all sold under the brand label of one or another of HPL’s retail partners, which included supermarkets, drug stores, and mass merchants. The firm, whose sales had grown steadily over the years, generated $681 million in revenue in 2007. Three weeks earlier, HPL’s largest retail customer had told Hansson that it wanted to significantly increase HPL’s share of their private label manufacturing. Given that HPL was already operating near full capacity, it would need to expand to accommodate this important customer without “cannibalizing” a significant portion of HPL’s existing business. The rub was, the customer would commit to only a three-year contract—and it expected a go/no-go commitment from Hansson within 30 days. Although he was worried about risk, Hansson was equally invigorated by the prospects of rapid growth and...

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