Darrell Lea making a comeback
THE famous Darrell Lea confectionery brand is re-emerging and will set up a "chocolate centre of excellence" in Melbourne's southeast.
The company, which went into administration in 2012 leading to closure of its stores nationwide, has new owners and has taken over Heritage Fine Chocolates in Rowville.
The chocolate factory operation will be retained with plans to increase production early next year, creating 50 jobs.
Darrell Lea already manufactures confectionery at a factory in Ingleburn in Sydney's southwest.
The company sells products through supermarkets and other retailers but does not have its own branded stores.
Marketing director Tim Stanford said the company had a longstanding relationship with Heritage which produced chocolates including Easter eggs for Darrell Lea in the past.
"Their (Heritage) capabilities plus the Darrell Lea brand equals a big opportunity for all of us," he said.
"It's great for us to be manufacturing in Melbourne and there's new job opportunities coming from it.''
All 120 Heritage employees have been retained in the takeover but Mr Stanford said another 50 workers could be added early next year.
"We will use it as our centre of excellence for chocolate and we will need more staff.''
No plans are in place to set up Darrell Lea-branded shops or to open up the centre of excellence to the public.
"It's always a possibility but we don't have any solid plans to become a retailer," he said.
"But never say never.''
Darrell Lea manufactures 40,000km of licorice and 400 million chocolate-coated bullets every year.
"We are known for chocolate interestingly although we don't do much chocolate now, mainly on bullets," Mr Stanford said.
Darrell Lea chief executive Tim York said: "Until now, we have always been viewed as a Sydney company but with manufacturing expansion into Victoria we can forge stronger
relationships with our retailers and consumers."
The Gold Coast-based Quinn family, who run VIP Pet Foods, took over Darrell Lea when it collapsed seven years ago.
They then sold the business to Quadrant Private Equity for about $200 million earlier this year.
In July, Darrell Lea bought the Life Savers lollies brand, first created in 1912, back from Swiss food powerhouse Nestle.