Queensland’s Quinn family have revealed why they bought Darrell Lea, after the confectionery and chocolate maker’s administrators announced plans to close the brand’s remaining 27 retail stores and make 418 employees redundant.
Tony and Christina Quinn are the owners of the chilled pet food producer VIP Pet Foods and are well known for their involvement in Australian motor racing.
They are on the BRW Rich List, which estimates the couple’s wealth at around $350 million.
A spokesperson for the Quinn family told SmartCompany the price paid for Darrell Lea was confidential but that the Quinns were attracted by the opportunity to buy an iconic Australian brand.
“The Quinn family have long held an interest in entering the Australian confectionery market, with the acquisition of Darrell Lea that interest become a reality, allowing the Quinn Family to purchase an iconic Australian brand and compete against market leading brands such as Cadbury, Nestle and Mars,” says the spokesperson.
While chocolates and pet food may not sound like they have much in common, the spokesperson says there are significant synergies between the Quinn family’s existing businesses and Darrell Lea.
“The Quinn family will bring a wealth of experience in food manufacturing and distribution to the Darrell Lea brand and are looking forward to building a strong brand presence that is enabled by a strengthened manufacturing and innovation capability,” the spokesperson says.
However the spokesperson was tight-lipped on the family’s plans for Darrell Lea: “At the moment we are developing plans to ensure the long-term success of the Darrell Lea brand for our employees, suppliers and consumers across Australia.”
The Lea family issued a statement yesterday acknowledging that the collapse of the business had been “a very challenging period for everybody involved with the Darrell Lea business”.
“The family believes that it has acted to the best of its ability to protect the interests of staff, licensees, suppliers and other key stakeholders,” the statement said.
The Lea family said it wished the Quinn family success in maximising the “considerable value” that exists within Darrell Lea.
“Part of that value is reflected in the goodwill that resides within the Australian public,” the statement said.
“The family thanks the Australian public for their support during the company’s long history and especially in recent times.”
Administrators PPB Advisory said the sale and subsequent store closures and redundancies were “unfortunate” but necessary to strengthen the manufacturing and distribution operations and ensure employment is secured for Darrell Lea’s 83 manufacturing and administrative staff.
Those employees affected by the Darrell Lea sale are to have all superannuation and wage entitlements paid in full.
“We are confident that the Quinn family has the necessary skills and experience to take the business forward,” said Mark Robinson of PPB Advisory.