NEW ZEALAND – Nestlé, a multinational food and beverage company, has sold some of its confectionery brands in New Zealand – including Fabulicious Red Licorice, Mackintosh and Black Knight – to Sydney-based firm Quadrant Private Equity.

According to FoodBev, the company will cut production at its Wiri factory with as many as 55 jobs likely to go among the 270 workers, as part of the restructuring. The plant manufactures a range of smaller confectionery lines for the New Zealand market.

Quadrant, which owns confectioner RJ’s and bought Australian’s Darrell Lea earlier this year, will offer Wiri staff losing their jobs new roles at RJ’s factory in Levin.

Nestle said it will shift its focus to its major chocolate, baking and medicated lozenge brands in New Zealand.

FoodBev added that culinary products will be the main production at its Wiri factory, including Maggi soups, recipe mixes and other products.

“It has been based on a careful consideration of how to focus our activities and resources, recognising that our sugar confectionery range in New Zealand is largely made up of smaller local brands,” said Martin Brown, Nestlé general manager of confectionery New Zealand.

“We are extremely excited about this potential opportunity. Being able to add these iconic NZ confectionery brands to our business gives RJ’s greater strength within the confectionery category,” said RJ’s national sales manager Amy Law.

“The Nestle products are extremely popular in New Zealand so it is our intention to keep the product recipes exactly as they are.”

Nestlé offloaded its US confectionery unit to Ferrero in January for US$2.8 billion as it comes under increasing pressure to focus on high-growth categories like coffee, infant nutrition, pet care and bottled water.

Earlier this month, activist investor Third Point called for Nestlé to divest as much as 15% of sales either through sales, spin-offs, or other methods to better align its portfolio around key categories.

However, Nestlé countered by highlighting the “swift and decisive” action the company is taking to deliver results.