Chocolate and licorice maker Darrell Lea sold for $200 million

The rich-list couple who bought collapsed n confectionery manufacturer Darrell Lea seven years ago have sold the business to private equity for about $200 million.

Quadrant Private Equity on Monday confirmed it had bought Darrell Lea from the Gold Coast-based Quinn family, and said it had plans to expand the brand’s reach in and overseas.

Chris Hadley, Quadrant’s executive chairman, said Darrell Lea, best-known for its soft licorice and Rocklea Road products, was an “iconic brand” that was widely recognised.

“It’s been around for a long time, it’s got incredibly good market share,” Mr Hadley said.

“Our intention is to make it one of the largest private confectionery companies in .”

Darrell Lea was founded by Harry and Esther Lea, who opened a shop in Sydney’s Manly in 1927.

The company collapsed into voluntary administration in 2012 before it was acquired by Queensland-based BRW Rich Listers Tony and Christina Quinn, who own two racetracks in New Zealand and an entertainment complex on the Gold Coast.

According to the BRW, they ranked 162nd on the 2017 Financial Review Rich List, with wealth of $465 million.

Darrell Lea sells 14,000 tons of confectionery every year in , the United States, Canada and Britain, “and has the potential to go into more overseas markets”, Mr Hadley said.

The company owns two manufacturing sites in , and employs 200 workers.

“The confectionary industry is an attractive market,” Mr Hadley said. “It’s very resilient, and it’s growing.”

In another deal with the Quinns, Quadrant also bought a pet food company, VIP Pet Foods, from the family for $400 million in 2015, but it on-sold the company for $1 billion last year.

In recent days, Darrell Lea filed its audited accounts for the year to June 30, 2017, which showed the group had increased its profits and revenues during the period.

The accounts showed the group generated a profit after tax of $8.75 million for fiscal 2017, up on the $2.1 million it produced a year earlier.

Its profit before income tax also jumped over, to $12.4 million from $2.8 million, while revenues increased 11 per cent over the year to $81.2 million.

Darrell Lea’s assetd totalled $32.7 million at the end of the 2017 financial year, with trade debtors making up $18.8 million over the company’s asset base.

Darrell Lea had no borrowings at June 30. Its total liability base of $11.8 million is made up of mainly trade and other payables.

The company held $1.7 million in cash at the end of the year.