Snacks & Candy

Pearson’s Candy Co. Acquired by Private-Equity Firm

Spell Capital will help confectioner transform its operations and facility to remain competitive
pearsons logo
Photograph courtesy of Pearson's Candy Co.

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Spell Capital Partners, a private-equity firm, has acquired chocolate and confectionery manufacturer Pearson’s Candy Co. for an undisclosed amount.

This move continues the flurry of mergers and acquisitions among consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies in 2018, evidenced by brands such as the Hershey Co.,Nestle and Campbell Soup.

According to the agreement, Spell Capital will help Pearson’s transform its operations and facility to remain competitive in the confectionery market. Pearson’s employees and management team will continue daily operations from its headquarters in St. Paul, Minn.

“We are very pleased with Spell’s purchase of Pearson’s," said Michael Keller, president and CEO of Pearson’s. “Spell will be a terrific partner and owner for Pearson’s because they understand both manufacturing and the importance of Pearson’s and its brands to the community, to customers and to our trading partners in Minnesota, the upper Midwest and around the country.”

Pearson’s has experienced numerous ownership changes in its 109-year history. In 1968, the Pearson family sold the business to the Continental Baking Co., the New York-based company that invented the Twinkie. Eleven years later, Continental Baking sold Pearson’s to an out-of-state confectionery partnership. In 1985, Larry Hassler and Judith Johnson—two Pearson’s employees—acquired the company once the out-of-state partnership split. This lasted until Brynwood Partners IV, a Greenwich, Conn.-based private-equity fund, acquired Pearson’s in 2011.

Under Brynwood, Pearson’s acquired the Bit-O-Honey brand from Nestle USA in 2013.

“Spell Capital and the significant number of Minnesota-based investors who we represent are excited to have the opportunity to own and invest in a historic Minnesota company like Pearson’s,” said Bill Spell, president of Spell Capital. “At Spell, we have a passion for and an extensive interest in manufacturing-based business, and we see meaningful opportunities for improvement and growth at Pearson’s.”

Spell Capital Partners LLC, based in Minneapolis, is a manager of private-equity and mezzanine capital. The company owns an array of plastic, fabric, security and now confectionery companies in the United States and Canada. Spell Capital manages more than $600 million of assets under management.

Pearson’s manufactures, sells and distributes chocolate and confectionery brands such as Pearson's Salted Nut Roll, Bit- O-Honey, Pearson's Mint Patties, Pearson's Nut Goodies and Pearson's Bun Bars.

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