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The iconic Darrell Lea brand. The iconic Darrell Lea brand. Featured
13 June 2019 Posted by 


Darrell Lea on a rescue mission
TWO lifesavers rescued a floundering 92-year-old Australian company and a Kiwi-manufactured confection could lead to its survival.
The iconic Darrell Lea chocolate firm went into voluntary administration in 2012 but vigorously administered CPR has kept the entity alive and thriving since then.
Following an extensive review of offers PPB Advisory sold the company for a reported $25M to the Queensland entrepreneurs Tony and Cristina Quinn, who embarked on a significant restructure of the brand – retail outlets across Australia closed and hundreds of employees were laid off.
The family, subsequently, sold an 80-90 per cent stake in Darrell Lea to its current owners Sydney-based Quadrant Private Equity for about $200M, in 2018.
Tony Quinn said at the time he felt his family had "done their job" in taking over Darrell Lea and making it a profitable business again.
"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," he said.
With the survival of the iconic Darrell Lea brand now in the hands of Quadrant Private Equity, the confectionary company looked to buying a product manufactured in New Zealand – Life Savers – to help its revival.
Darrell Lea CEO, Tim York, said Life Savers had “significant growth potential” with a bright future in Australia; Darrell Lea has the rights from Nestle NZ to Life Savers in Australia and New Zealand.
James Byrne, Life Savers marketing manager, said the company's balance sheet had turned around “completely” and he hoped the acquisition of the could turn into a similar success story.
The company took the manufacturing equipment apart and shipped it to its state-of-the-art factory, at Ingleburn, in south-west Sydney where it expects to launch the “revitalised” product in September this year.
In the meantime the Quinn family will bring, and maintain, the Darrell Lea brand along with their purchase last year of Melbourne-based Heritage Fine Chocolates, under the new banner of RiteBite
"There are wonderful synergies between Darrell Lea and Heritage which present exciting opportunities for us to expand our footprint into new categories and with more products," said Mr York, CEO.
James Byrne, Life Savers marketing manager, said the company's balance sheet had turned around “completely” since the rescue attempt and he hoped the acquisition of Life Savers could turn into a similar success story.
Purchases of its Easter products are indicative of the once floundering Darrell Lea thriving since its resuscitation and restructuring – sales went up 20 per cent versus those in 2018.
Revenue of the new group is expected to exceed $200M in 2020.


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