Majority stake in Darrell Lea sold to private equity company

Majority stake in Darrell Lea sold to private equity company

A PRIVATE equity firm has purchased a majority stake in beloved Australian confectioner Darrell Lea.

Quadrant Private Equity bought the majority stake of the 90-year-old Australian company for a reported $200 million.

The sale is a sweet success for Darrell Lea, which just five years ago was treading water in voluntary administration following a major restructure.

Quadrant Private Equity bought the stake of the Rocklea Road manufacturer from the Quinn family. The Quinn family acquired Darrell Lea in 2012 after it was placed into voluntary administration.

Last year, Darrell Lea's earnings nearly doubled to $23 million, with annual sales exceeding $110 million.

Chairman of Quadrant Private Equity, Chris Hadley, says the firm plans to continue the expansion of Darrell Lea overseas, and boosting the confectioner's capacity to manufacture its iconic products.

"Darrell Lea is one of the most iconic consumer brands in Australia with a proud heritage of producing high quality confectionary for over 90 years," says Hadley.

"We are excited to be investing in the business and believe there are significant opportunities to implement growth and strategic initiatives to enhance the brand and product in Australia and throughout the world."

CEO of Darrell Lea, Tim York, says Quadrant is the perfect partner to take the reins of the company.

"Over the past few years, Darrell Lea has undergone a significant acceleration of growth that has built strong market position within its key segments," says York.

"Despite our growth we have preserved the long, unique and proud heritage of the brand for quality and innovation. We believe Quadrant is the right partner to assist the team over the next phase of growth."

The confectionary company was founded by Harry and Esther Lea in 1927 in Sydney. The company has since moved from its home in Manly to Ingleburn, NSW.

When the Quinn's took control of the company following its voluntary administration period the products were moved from being sold in Darrell Lea stores to being sold in supermarkets.

The company manufactures a range of chocolate, sugar and liquorice products which are sold in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Darrell Lea operates two manufacturing sites, has over 200 employees and sells over 14,000 tonnes of confectionary annually.

Two years ago, Quadrant made another purchase from the Quinn family. The private equity group bought into the Quinn's VIP Petfoods business two years ago for $410 million.

The pet food company was successfully expanded by Quadrant, renamed to 'Real Petfood Company' and on-sold to a Chinese and Singapore-backed consortium for $1 billion in 2017.

Tony Quinn is a serial Gold Coast entrepreneur who, following the sale of VIP Petfood, purchased a second race track.

Quinn, who owns the Australian GT and Aussie Racing Car series, purchased a second New Zealand circuit in 2015.

In 2015, Business News Australia spoke to Klark Quinn about how they turned the fortunes of Darrell Lea around in such a short period of time. Revisit that piece here.

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