Finance

Confectionery importer Blue Thistle collapses after 17 years in business

Eloise Keating /

A West Australian-based business which has imported and sold confectionery, chocolate and soft drinks from the US and UK for 17 years has collapsed into voluntary administration.

Blue Thistle supplies well-known UK and US brands, including Thorntons chocolate from the UK and Reese’s chocolate and Dr Pepper soft drinks from the US, as well as local confectionery products and some brands from New Zealand, the Netherlands and South Africa.

Robert Kirman and Norman Oehme from McGrathNicol were appointed administrators of Tonnoc Pty Ltd, trading as Blue Thistle, on May 19 and will hold the first meeting of the company’s creditors in Perth on May 29.

In the meantime, Kirman and Oehme are seeking urgent expressions of interest in Blue Thistle by Wednesday.

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In an advertisement in the Australian Financial Review on Friday, Kirman and Oehme described Blue Thistle as a “reputable business operating from leased premises in Wangara”, WA.

The administrators said the business has longstanding relationships with key suppliers in the UK and the US and established customer relationships with national and local retailers in Australia and businesses in New Zealand and Singapore.

Other key features of the business listed in the ad include a longstanding skilled workforce and stock on hand.

Speaking to SmartCompany this morning, Kirman confirmed Blue Thistle is continuing to trade throughout the administration process and the administrators are aiming to sell the business as a going concern. 

Kirman says Blue Thistle has recorded revenue in the past of between $5 and $10 million and employs approximately 10 employees.

The wholesaler counts major supermarket chains, as as independent confectionery retailers, among its clients and has historically made “very good margins”, Kirman says. 

The collapse of Blue Thistle comes after a tough start to the year for a number of other local confectionery companies, including manufacturers Betta Foods and Ernest Hillier, which were placed in voluntary administration within weeks of each other in January.

However, the local confectionery market is still expected to continue growing, with an IBISWorld report published in November 2014 predicting confectionery manufacturing to grow at an annualised rate of 2.3% to reach $6.7 billion by 2019-20.

The local confectionery manufacturing industry is currently worth around $5.9 billion.

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Eloise Keating

Eloise Keating is the editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Eloise was news editor at Books+Publishing, the trade press for the Australian book industry.

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