Daily Newsletter

30 August 2023

Daily Newsletter

30 August 2023

Yowie Group buys Ernest Hillier chocolate assets from administration

Yowie said the deal includes plant and equipment, as well as the Ernest Hillier name.

Simon Harvey August 30 2023

Yowie Group has acquired the “assets” of Australia-based chocolate maker Ernest Hillier, which went into voluntary administration in June.

Publicly-listed confectioner Yowie said it had agreed a price of A$375,000 ($242,476) with the administrators of Chocolate & Confectionery Company, which owned Melbourne-based Ernest Hillier.

The deal includes the leased plant in Coburg North, along with all equipment, and the intellectual property related to the business name and brands of Ernest Hillier. Yowie will apply for a new facility lease, stressing the transaction does not include any “liabilities”.

WLP Restructuring Partners said in June it was seeking a buyer for Ernest Hillier after the company’s directors had cited the impact on margins from the increasing cost of raw materials and shipping for initiating the administration process.

Ernest Hillier set up the chocolate maker in the UK in 1914 before relocating to Australia. The company supplied the local and New Zealand market, with customers including the retail chains Woolworths, Coles and Aldi. It also provided co-manufacturing services to other confectionery companies.

Yowie chairman Sean Taylor said: “The Ernest Hillier acquisition represents an important step in the evolution of our business. It enables us to preserve an iconic Australian manufacturing business with significant heritage value and capability.”

Taylor added in the stock-exchange filing: “The addition of the Ernest Hillier business enables us to further expand our product range of premium Australian chocolates, providing greater control over the production of our products.”

Yowie, headquartered in Perth in Western Australia, markets its namesake products in Australia and the US to “promote learning, understanding and engagement with the natural world”, featuring Yowie characters such as Rumble and Squish. It outsources production and distribution.

As well as a range of “premium” chocolates, Ernest Hillier also has the capacity to produce energy snack bars, Yowie said.

Reporting preliminary third-quarter results in April – in US dollars – Yowie said year-to-date sales to 31 March were down 10% at $10.6m. EBITDA turned to a loss of $482,000 from a $707,000 profit.

“The consumer and retailers have been very cautious in the past two quarters due to the uncertain economic environment, with our Q3 and YTD results reflecting the situation,” the company said.

In the previous financial year to 30 June 2022, sales amounted to $15.6m, up 24%. Net profit after tax was $839,506, a drop of 6%.

Could the consumer industry be bolstered by the increased use of AI

The consumer goods, foodservice, and packaging sectors are undergoing digital transformation, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic and changing consumer preferences. Data science and ML are strong investments across all areas. For the most part, these sectors will not play a significant role in creating and developing AI hardware or platforms, but will instead help scale up the adoption of AI technologies, such as CV, conversational platforms, and smart robots.

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