Wholesaler Morris finds sugar-free sweet manufacturer irresistible

A SECOND sweet manufacturer has been snapped up by wholesaler Morris and Son just weeks after it acquired Stockley's Sweets.

The Leeds-based wholesaler acquired the assets and goodwill of Sweet Luxuries, a specialist sugar-free sweet manufacturer based in Cleckheaton, which supplies products under the Sugarless brand.

The acquisition also marks the arrival of confectionery industry veteran Brian Siron to the business. Mr Siron was operations director at Sweet Luxuries and will take on the same role for Morris and Son.

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Morris and Son will take ownership of the Cleckheaton operation, including its 15 employees, in the deal, structured by BTG McInnes Corporate Finance in Leeds.

Andy Needham, managing director of Morris and Son, said: "The acquisition will add over 1m sales in the coming year but more importantly adds additional industry expertise to our new Stockley's subsidiary."

He added: "Brian Siron has been involved in sweet manufacturing for over 30 years, running his own businesses and setting up manufacturing plants for some of the biggest names in the industry.

"His knowledge of product development, manufacturing techniques and the wider marketplace per se will vastly strengthen the Stockley's business."

The deal comes just weeks after the company bought traditional sweet manufacturer Stockley's Sweets out of administration

Founded in 1918, the 2m turnover Stockley's produces pear drops, chocolate limes, and barley sugars as well as traditional cinder toffee and fudges.

Over the years the company has supplied many wholesalers and retailers, but the collapse of Woolworths last year led to the failure of its parent company, Mr Lucky Bags, in September.

In June the company saved six jobs when it bought Manchester-based cash & carry wholesaler and confectionery packing business Graham's Cash & Carry following the collapse of the Loughborough based business.

Steve Roberts, of BTG McInnes who negotiated the acquisition of the business from its previous owners, said: "These businesses will all benefit from working together and we remain open to opportunities to continue the growth by acquisition of the right businesses."

The combined group now has two factories in Accrington and Cleckheaton, as well as distribution depots in Manchester, Blackburn and Leeds, employing a total of 95 staff.

Mr Needham became the managing director and majority shareholder of Morris and Son when he bought the firm through a management buy-in in August 2003.

The company has just completed its most successful trading period with turnover exceeding 15m in the last financial year.