Scandinavian confectioner buys Dublin jelly bean firm in €15.5m deal

Aran Candy, the Dublin-based company that produces confectionery under ‘The Jelly Bean Factory’ brand, has sold a majority stake to Swedish confectionery firm Cloetta in a deal valued at €15.5m.

The Swedish company has bought a 75pc stake in Aran Candy for €15.5m.

Aran Candy was founded in 1998 by father and son Peter and Richard Cullen after they identified an opportunity in the European confectionery market for an American-style high quality jelly bean. Today, it employs 70 people in Blanchardstown. The company has between 10 to 15 core customers in Ireland, including Avoca and Tesco, and a further 120 clients outside the country.

Richard Cullen, the company’s managing director, will retain a minority stake in the company following the deal and will stay on in his current role.

Mr Cullen said: “I met them in February. They visited the factory. They loved the place, loved the efficiency and our distribution and they wanted to launch brand into Sweden, Norway, Finland, the Netherlands, Denmark and Italy.”

The company produces 12 million jelly beans a day and exports 97pc.

Mr Cullen told RTE that Aran Candy was debt-free and strongly profitable and had not been seeking investment or looking for a buyer when it received the approach from Cloetta.

Aran Candy hopes to double production out of Ireland, he added.

Aran Candy won the Ulster Bank Invoice Finance and Irish Independent monthly Business Achievers Award in July 2012.

Creating their own gourmet jelly bean recipes, Peter and Richard originally manufactured and packaged their product in the UK, but in 2004, to maintain control over production, they set up their own manufacturing facility in Blanchardstown in Dublin.

With more than 20 years’ experience in the confectionery business, Peter Cullen had acquired a number of strong overseas contacts which would prove useful in generating a customer base on the Continent and the United States.