It was announced last week that Lily O’Brien’s, the Irish manufacturer of premium chocolate and desserts, has agreed to be acquired by Colian Holding SA for €40 million on a debt-free, cash free basis from its existing shareholders, the Carlyle Cardinal Ireland Fund (CCI) and members of the Lily O’Brien’s management team. The acquisition is expected to complete in January 2018.
Lily O’Brien’s was established in 1992 by Mary Ann O’Brien in the kitchen of her home. The company today employs 120 people at its Newbridge plant and generated revenues in excess of €30 million during 2016.
CCI, the private equity fund focusing on investments across the island of Ireland founded by The Carlyle Group and Cardinal Capital Group, acquired a majority shareholding in Lily O’Brien’s in January 2014, investing alongside Eoin Donnelly (CEO), Mary Ann O’Brien (founder) and other members of the management team. Lily O’Brien’s has undergone significant growth during the four years of CCI ownership. Since 2013, total revenues and global export revenues have increased by almost 50%, underpinned by increased investment in production facilities and new product development.
Lily O’Brien’s will continue to be run by its existing Irish management team led by CEO, Eoin Donnelly, with Mary Ann O’Brien remaining as a director and consultant to the company. Colian’s vision is to continue the growth trajectory of Lily O’Brien’s as a premium global chocolate and dessert brand through further investment in production, sales and marketing, and innovation. Lily O’Brien’s will continue to develop its Newbridge operations to support this growth.
Employing approx. 2,000 people, Colian Holdings SA is listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange (COL:WSE) and is a Polish producer and distributor of food products in the confectionary, culinary products and beverage sectors. Colian has a number of leading and trusted brands in the Polish market, and exports to over 60 countries around the world. Colian also owns the well-known UK chocolate brand, Elizabeth Shaw.
Speaking last week, CEO of Lily O’Brien’s, Eoin Donnelly said, "CCI has been a fantastic partner for Lily O’Brien’s and the management team over the last four years, as the company increased its international sales, invested in new production capacity and enlarged the employee base. We selected Colian as the new owner for the business given our shared vision of growing our brand globally. Colian exports to over 60 countries worldwide, providing us with access to potential new markets, and their commitment to new product development and innovation is very exciting for employees and the company."
Managing Director at The Carlyle Group, Jonathan Cosgrave added, "Lily O’Brien’s was our first investment in the Irish market and working with a world class management team led by Eoin and Mary Ann has been a privilege for us. The business has grown in every respect during the four years of our investment and the acquisition price recognises the value of both the Lily O’Brien’s brand and the capabilities of the business. It has also created a sustainable impact for the Irish economy."