Business

Owner of Pyrex, CorningWare cooks up takeover of Instant Pot maker

The Canadian company that invented one of the most popular kitchen appliances in recent years is being bought by a U.S. company that has been making food storage and cooking containers for more than a century.

Instant Pot inventor Robert Wang will stay on with new larger company

Instant Pot founder and CEO Robert Wang will stay on with the company as chief innovation officer. (Idil Mussa/CBC)

The Canadian company that invented one of the most popular kitchen appliances in recent years is being bought by a U.S. company that has been making food storage and cooking containers for more than a century.

Kanata, Ont.-based Instant Brands, the creator of the Instant Pot pressure cooker, will merge with Corelle Brands, a U.S. company that owns food storage brands including Pyrex, CorningWare, SnapWare and Corelle in a deal announced Monday.

Created by former Nortel engineer Robert Wang, the Instant Pot has seen runaway success since its creation in 2009. It's one of the best selling items on Amazon, with more than $300 million in total sales, according to market research firm NPD Group.

The small kitchen appliance does the work of a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker or steamer, all in one.

Corelle Brands, meanwhile, is a conglomerate that formed in 2017 with the purchase of a number of cookware brands such as Pyrex, which traces its roots back to 1915.

Financial details were not released, but the two companies said in a joint statement that the deal is expected to close this year. Citing unnamed sources close to the deal, The Wall Street Journal pegged the value of the combined company at roughly $2 billion US.

Wang will stay with the company as chief innovation officer, while Corelle CEO Ken Wilkes will stay on as CEO of the merged firm.

"We are thrilled to partner with a global market leader in Corelle Brands as we look to embark on our next chapter of strategic growth and expansion," Wang said in a statement.

Ken Wong, a faculty member at the Smith School of Business at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., said the Canadian-made Instant Pot was a huge hit, but would need help to last.

"If you're an inventor looking for a ... hit, you're not going to do much better than the Instant Pot," he said in an interview. "But the problem is that one product and one success doesn't make you a company."

"It has the potential to be a one hit wonder," he said, which is why this deal could work for both sides.

Corelle will bring in sales and marketing expertise to help Instant Pot expand its business and to give the device's creator more leeway to try to come up with new products.

"He is first and foremost an inventor and this will let him invent to his heart's content," Wong said. "This gives them the potential to create a whole suite of products."

With files from Meegan Read

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