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Darrell Lea sold for $200 million; outgoing owner says 'absolutely no job cuts'

by January 16, 2018 General

Darrell Lea chocolate

Confectionary maker Darrell Lea has been sold for about $200 million to a Sydney-based private equity firm.

Key points:

  • Darrell Lea sold to Quadrant Private Equity for about $200 million
  • Quadrant will have an 80-90 per cent majority interest in the company
  • Sale to be finalised on January 31

The iconic Australian brand has also “picked up a sizeable order from Walmart” and there will be “absolutely no job cuts”, its outgoing-owner Tony Quinn said.

However, Mr Quinn was unable to elaborate on the deal with the US retailing giant.

Earlier this week the Quinn family sold an 80-90 per cent stake in Darrell Lea to Quadrant Private Equity, with the sale to be finalised on January 31.

Mr Quinn also confirmed his family would retain a minority stake in the “low double-digit range” (10 to 20 per cent), and that he would stay on as a “silent investor”.

In 2012, the iconic brand went into voluntary administration, slashed hundreds of jobs and shut down all its retail stores.

It was then taken over in the same year by Queensland-based serial entrepreneurs Tony and Christina Quinn, who also owned VIP Pet Foods.

The Quinns sold their stake in the pet food brand to Quadrant in mid-2015 for $410 million.

VIP was then rebranded as Real Pet Foods and on-sold for $1 billion to a consortium comprising New Hope Group, Hosen Capital (China’s largest agribusiness company) and Temasek (the Singapore government’s investment vehicle).

The idea of offloading Darrell Lea occurred to Mr Quinn during their discussions about selling the pet food business.

What happens next?

When asked about why he sold the confectionary brand, Mr Quinn was not sentimental.

“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.

Mr Quinn said he felt his family had “done their job” in taking over Darrell Lea seven years ago and making it a profitable business again.

As for what’s next, Mr Quinn, 60, said he was “not ready to retire” and was on the lookout for the next business opportunity like “the next retailer that needs rescuing”.

Darrell Lea CEO Tim York said he expects Quadrant to sell the business in a few years for a profit — much like it did with the Quinns’ pet food business.