Finance

Confectionery manufacturer Betta Foods collapses into voluntary administration

Eloise Keating /

A Melbourne confectionery manufacturer that has been operating for 60 years has collapsed into voluntary administration just months after being acquired by international investment firm Re:Capital.

Betta Foods is home to liquorice brand Capricorn and also supplies ice cream cones, marshmallows and jelly lollies to major retailers including Coles, Woolworths and ALDI.

Bruno Secatore, Daniel Juratowitch and Glenn Spooner of Cor Cordis were appointed as administrators on Tuesday, just days after sister company century-old chocolatier Ernest Hillier, purchased by Re:Capital in 2014, also plunged into voluntary administration

Betta Foods has annual revenue of approximately $40 million and employs 180 staff at its manufacturing plant in Broadmeadows in Melbourne’s north.

Administrator Bruno Secatore said on Wednesday the company will continue to trade as Cor Cordis reviews its financial position.

“We are confident that the business can be sold as a going concern, which will result in the preservation of jobs and ensures the future of this important Australian-based manufacturer,” he said.

“In the meantime, the company is continuing to trade so it will be business as usual while we meet with the company’s management, customers and suppliers.”

“We have met with all of the staff this morning and will continue to keep them informed as we conduct our investigations.”

Betta Foods was acquired by Re:Capital, the investment arm of British restructuring firm Hilco, in October 2014. At the time, Mark Campbell, chief executive of Hillier’s Chocolates and Betta Foods, told SmartCompany there were synergies between the two manufacturers.

“The structures and processes are the same,” he said, adding there is high demand internationally for Australian-made products.

James Turner, investment director for Re:Capital Australia, told SmartCompany at the time Betta Foods ticked all the boxes as it had strong manufacturing facilities, experienced and capable staff and a quality product range.

“For us, there are a lot of SME businesses in this space which really do benefit from having size behind them, there are economies of scale,” Turner said.

“These products are being sold to a very similar customer base and to suddenly have a broader sales force combining the two gives a great boost.”

Last week, Secatore said Cor Cordis had already received “significant interest in purchasing Hillier’s as a going concern”.

“We will work through those enquiries in due course,” he said.

The first meeting of creditors for Ernest Hillier was held on Tuesday, while the first meeting of creditors for Betta Foods is scheduled to take place in Melbourne on January 30. 

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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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