Chupa Chups expects sales to rise strongly this year, in part from new owner Perfetti Van Melle’s efforts to expand the brand in key new markets, just-food was told on Monday (10 July).

“They [Perfetti] plan to strengthen Chupa Chups brands in Asia, Oceania and the US so this is going to increase sales and production,” a Chupa Chups spokesman commented, adding that Chupa Chups has already rung up a 6% sales hike in the first half of 2006.

Italian-Dutch confectionary group Perfetti snapped up Chupa Chups last week for a rumoured EUR400m (US509.46m). It was unclear whether the deal included Chupa Chups debt.

The Barcelona-based candy giant, best-known for making lollipops, delivered turnover of EUR264m last year, as a restructuring drive improved its operations and sweetened its outlook. The spokesman would not say by how much Chupa Chups will boost this year’s revenues.

He also rejected reports that Chupa Chups will restructure its personnel post merger in a move that could involve layoffs. Perfetti intends to increase Chupa Chups’ efficiencies without disposing of its staff, he noted.

Perfetti’s acquisition comes as Chupa Chups’ owner Catalunya’s Bernat family had long sworn it would not sell Spain’s candy darling, which markets a large stable of sweet brands around the world including Smint mints and Chupa Chups pops.

The Chupa Chups spokesman would not say whether the Bernat family will take a stake in Perfetti. However, he noted that top family executives will stay on whilst Perfetti integrates the company.

Perfetti will keep all Chupa Chups operations in Barcelona and maintain the company’s expansion commitments including building a new factory in Sant Esteve de Sesrovires, Barcelona.