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BBX Capital lays US premium chocolate nest egg with two acquisitions

By Oliver Nieburg+

16-Jan-2014
Last updated on 16-Jan-2014 at 13:17 GMT

BBX Capital snaps up Williams & Bennett soon after Hoffman's Chocolates buy
BBX Capital snaps up Williams & Bennett soon after Hoffman's Chocolates buy

BBX Capital has acquired premium chocolate maker Williams & Bennett soon after acquiring Hoffman's Chocolates in December.

The investment firm has established BBX Sweet Holdings that will operate in the booming US premium chocolate segment.

Strong premium choc sector

“It’s a competitive market, but a strong market,” Jarett Levan, president of BBX Capital told ConfectioneryNews.

“My philosophy is that you have more success selling a quality product than a sub-par product.”

Florida-based Williams & Bennett produce Belgian chocolate covered Oreo Cookies, Bavarian pretzels, Graham Crackers and other confectionery products.

The firm has an agreement with Mondelez International and other brand owners to sell Belgian chocolate coated products in the gifting sector including in large department stores such as Harrods’s, Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s.

Growth plans

“With Williams & Bennett, the aim is to remain in the premium niche,” said Levan. ”Our Initial objective is to repeat and grow what was a strong year for Williams & Bennett.”

For Hoffman’s Chocolates, a business BBX acquired in December along with Hoffman’s subsidiary brands Boca Bons and Good Fortunes, BBX intends to expand Hoffman’s retail stores beyond Florida.

Staff and facilities

BBX has taken on 100 employees from the two acquisitions – 40 from Williams & Bennett and 60 from Hoffman.

“We intend to maintain the current staff and grow production,” said Levan.

BBX acquired 45,000 sq ft of production space across two factories in South Florida through the deals.

Levan said there was opportunity to grow production volumes within existing facilities.

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