Pet food tycoon chomps into confectionery world with Darrell Lea buy

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

The pet food firm hopes to cash in on the confectionery sector
The pet food firm hopes to cash in on the confectionery sector

Related tags Darrell lea Liquorice Confectionery

A multi-million dollar Australian pet food firm has snapped up troubled confectioner Darrell Lea for an undisclosed sum as it plans to delve into a new market area.

Premium pet food company VIP Petfoods, owned by the Quinn family, confirmed the purchase today and the sale is set to be completed this week.

Darrell Lea went into administration in July this year and appointed PPB Advisory as voluntary administrators of the business to search for buyers.

Under the buyout agreement the Quinn family will drive a huge restructuring project of Darrell Lea that will involve investments in manufacturing, marketing and distribution as well as the closure of 27 loss-making stores as of September 9.

In total, 418 job losses and 83 offers will be made amid restructuring efforts. PPB Advisory said it will work closely with several workers associations to ensure all employees get entitlements.

Staying in Australian hands

Mark Robinson of PPB Advisory said the sale represents “the best outcome for Darrell Lea as it ensures that this iconic Australian brand and its manufacturing operations can continue to operate locally and stay Australian-owned”.

“The sale follows an extensive review of a number of offers presented to PPB Advisory, and we are confident that the Quinn family has the necessary skills and experience to take the business forward,”​ Robinson said.

Leatherhead analyst Jonathan Thomas had previously told this site that Darrell Lea would likely be snapped up by South Korean confectioner Lotte. Thomas had ruled out Cadbury/Kraft, Mars and Nestlé but had tipped domestic Australian supplier, Fyna Foods, as another likely candidate. See HERE​.

Driving business

Darrell Lea sells its 350-strong chocolate and liquorice portfolio across Australia, New Zealand and the US.

The business commands a 1.6% share of the US$4bn Australian confectionery market, according to Euromonitor data. Mars heads the lion’s share of the sector with Cadbury’s the next largest player.

V.I.P Petfoods

New Darell Lea owner Tony Quinn is reported to have told the Gold Coast Bulleting newspaper in October 2011 that he is ready to take on Nestlé and Mars in the confectionery sector.

Quinn is the founder of V.I.P. Petfoods, which positions itself as Australia’s premier producer of fresh chilled petfoods.

The company has a 7,000m2 fresh chilled petfood factory in Queensland, which exports products to markets including Canada, Korea, Japan, and the USA.

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