Large Australian liquorice business faces foreign acquisition

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 27th January 2015
Large Australian liquorice business faces foreign acquisition
Large Australian liquorice business faces foreign acquisition

Melbourne-based confectionery company Betta Foods has entered into administration, in an attempt to save the business by selling it.

Established in 1954, Betta Foods produces liquorice and marshmallow products under the Capricorn and Eskimo brands. The company also produces private label liquorice, marshmallow and ice cream cone products for Australia’s largest supermarkets and fast food groups. Betta Foods has an annual turnover of $30 million.

Some commentators have suggested that Betta Foods could attract interest from the US, given that Australian liquorice has proven popular in that country. Another iconic Australian confectionery company, Darrell Lea, has had recent success selling its liquorice lines in North America.

The move into administration follows soon after another Australian confectionery manufacturer was put on the selling block. Australian Food News reported last week that Ernest Hillier had been also been placed into voluntary administration. Advisory firm Cor Cordis, which is Ernest Hillier’s administrator, is also acting as administrator for Betta Foods. Interested parties should contact the Mr Bruno Secatore of advisory firm Cor Cordis.

Both Betta Foods and Ernest Hillier were acquired by Re:Capital, the Australian arm of UK-based investment company Hilco Capital. Australian Food News reported the acquisition of Ernest Hillier in February 2014. In October 2014, Australian Food News reported that Re:Capital had acquired Betta Foods and formed a new holding company, The Confectionery Innovation Group Pty Ltd (Confectionery Innovation Group) that also included Hillier’s.

The difficulties faced by Betta Foods and Ernest Hillier follow the earlier sale of another iconic Australian confectionery company, Darrell Lea. Darrell Lea was acquired in 2012 by the Quinn family, owners of VIP Petfoods, after a financial troubles. Australian Food News reported in December 2014 Darrell Lea had returned to profit in 2014 after aggressive cost-cutting.

Mr Secatore from Cor Cordis said he was confident that the Betta Foods business could be sold, and that jobs could be preserved. A creditors’ meeting has been scheduled for 30 January 2015.