Chocolate maker Darrell Lea has been sold for $200 million to private equity

A 2012 file photo of a Darrell Lea store in Sydney. Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Darrell Lea, the 90-year-old Australian confectionery company, has been bought by Quadrant Private Equity for about $200 million.

The seller was the Quinn family which bought the business about six years ago for about $25 million after Darrell Lea went into administration.

Details of the sale haven’t been released but the Quinn family is reported to be keeping a minority interest of about 10%.

The ABC reported that the Australian brand has also won a “sizeable order” from Walmart in the US.

“In business, you must always be looking at what’s best for the future. I’m more a build-it and move-on kind of guy,” Tony Quinn told the ABC.

Darrell Lea has more than 200 employees, has two manufacturing sites and sells 14,000 tonnes of confectionary a year.

Chris Hadley, Executive Chairman of Quadrant, said Darrell Lea is one of the most iconic consumer brands in Australia with a proud heritage of producing high quality confectionary.

“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,” he said.

Tim York, CEO of Darrell Lea, said Darrell Lea has undergone a significant acceleration of growth that has built strong market position.

“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,” he said.

Among the chocolates produced by Darrell Lea is Rocklea Road — a marshmallow covered with coconut and peanuts and smothered in chocolate — created on Valentine’s Day 1955.

It’s not the first time Quadrant has cut a deal with the Quinn family, having bought a majority interest in the Queensland-based chilled pet foods business TRPC (formerly VIP Petfoods) in 2015 for $410 million. Late last year the private equity business sold its stake to a consortium of investors led by Hosen, New Hope Group and Tamasek for $1 billion.

Quadrant has been increasing its exposure to the food sector in recent years, having acquired the Sydney-based restaurant busines Urban Purveyor Group, which has the Bavarian Bier Cafe Sake Japanese restaurant brands in 2015. The following year, it used UPG to acquire Neil Perry’s Rockpool restaurant empire , which includes Spice Temple and Burger Project and rebranded the business as Rockpool Dining Group. The business is pushing towards a float this year or in 2019.

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