AUSTRALIA – Sydney-based firm Quadrant Private Equity, one of the leading private equity firms, has bought the creator of chocolates and confectionery products, Darrell Lea for US$160 million.

The Quinn family sold an 80-90% stake in Darrell Lea to Quadrant Private Equity, with the sale to be finalised on January 31 and would retain a minority stake (10-20%) in the company.

Quinn family had originally bought the brand in 2012 after it was placed into voluntary administration, leading to hundreds of jobs being cut and its retail stores closing down.

With its product market in Australia, the UK, New Zealand, the US and Canada, the Quadrant firm has ambitions to take Darrell Lea overseas.

“Darrell Lea is one of the most iconic consumer brands in Australia with a proud heritage of producing high-quality confectionery for over 90 years,” said Chris Hadley, Quadrant Private Equity chairman.

“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 added.

The company’s earnings are expected to turn around as no job-cuts are expected at the end of the deal.

During the company woes in 2012, 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 brand’s fortunes have turned in recent years and last year its earnings nearly doubled to US$18.4 million.

“Over the past few years, Darrell Lea has undergone a significant acceleration of growth that has built strong market position within its key segments.

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,” said Tim York Darrell Lea CEO.