Sweet deal: Sara Lee sold to former Darrell Lea owner and race car champion

Beloved Australian frozen desserts brand Sara Lee has been rescued out of administration by former race car driver Klark Quinn and his partner Brooke, the same pair who saved chocolate maker Darrell Lea in 2012.

The sale of the business, the sum of which was not disclosed, also ensures the employment of more than 200 staff, whom administrator Vaughan Strawbridge said had rallied behind the business during the process.

Sara Lee has been rescued by the same couple who returned Darrell Lea to profitability.
Sara Lee has been rescued by the same couple who returned Darrell Lea to profitability.Credit: Getty

“We are so grateful to the loyal workforce and management team who have made this process a success while they have continued to produce amazing products,” Strawbridge said.

“We have enjoyed working with the Sara Lee team and are pleased to see them come through this process. Many staff have been with Sara Lee a long time, and we have seen their passion for the business.

“In addition to the staff, we would also like to thank all the suppliers who have continued to support the business, and the customers, who have been vital to the continuation of the business. We look forward to its future success.”

Australians rushed to supermarkets to buy Sara Lee’s frozen cheesecakes, pies, crumbles and ice-creams last October after higher operating costs, supply chain issues and disrupted operations saw the company collapse and appoint FTI Consulting as administrators to the business.

Sara Lee’s Australian operations were established in 1971 and became a household name synonymous with good quality and affordable frozen desserts.

Klark and Brooke Quinn emerged as the successful buyers in a competitive sales process involving around 60 domestic and international parties interested in taking on the brand, as well as some $55 million owed to creditors, including employees, unpaid suppliers and secured lenders.

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“We are a small Aussie family that shared in the tradition of having Sara Lee apple pie and vanilla ice-cream every Sunday night at the dinner table and could not be more proud to put the Aussie made and owned stamp on the Sara Lee brand,” Klark and Brooke Quinn said in a statement.

Klark Quinn is a three-time Australian GT champion and the son of Tony Quinn, the founder of VIP Petfoods. Quinn purchased confectioner Darrell Lea in 2012 after its collapse and cut some jobs to save on costs. The former competitive driver was hands-on in returning the Darrell Lea business to profitability and moved to Sydney to be near the production site based in Kogarah. In early 2018, he sold the business for around $200 million.

A former Darrell Lea store in Melbourne’s Swanston Street.
A former Darrell Lea store in Melbourne’s Swanston Street.Credit: Wayne Taylor

During his time leading the business, Quinn reduced some product lines that “you and I had never heard of” to focus on export markets.

“It was the lesser-known products that were dragging the business down,” he told this masthead in 2012. “It was very hard choosing what products to keep. But when we looked at it closer, it was obvious.”

The sales process will officially complete in the coming weeks.

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Source: Thanks smh.com