Sara Lee’s Australian business saved by local family group

What happened to Sara Lee in Australia?

Sara Lee, the iconic frozen dessert brand, went into voluntary administration in October 2023, after facing financial difficulties due to rising costs, natural disasters, and supply chain disruptions. The company, which has been operating in Australia since 1971, appointed FTI Consulting as its administrator, and sought a buyer or a restructuring plan for its business.

Sara Lee’s Australian business employs about 200 people, and produces a range of products, such as cheesecakes, pies, ice creams, and puddings, under the Sara Lee brand, as well as private labels. The company also has the rights to distribute its products in New Zealand, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East.

Sara Lee’s
Sara Lee’s

Who bought Sara Lee’s Australian business?

On Monday, January 29, 2024, FTI Consulting announced that it had entered into an agreement to sell Sara Lee’s Australian and New Zealand operations to a private company owned by Klark and Brooke Quinn, a local family group. The deal, which was completed for an undisclosed amount, also includes the related intellectual property, equipment, and brands of the business.

The Quinns are the children of Tony and Christina Quinn, the former owners of VIP Pet Foods, who sold the pet food business for A$410 million (US$296 million) in 2015. The Quinn family also bought the chocolate brand Darrell Lea out of administration in 2012, and sold it for A$200 million (US$144 million) in 2018, after successfully turning it around.

The Quinns said that they were proud to put the “Aussie-made and owned” stamp on the Sara Lee brand, and that they shared the tradition of having Sara Lee apple pie and vanilla ice cream every Sunday night at the dinner table. They also said that they were looking forward to working with the Sara Lee team and continuing to deliver high-quality products to the customers and consumers.

What are the implications of the deal?

The deal is expected to have positive implications for both Sara Lee and the Quinns, as well as for the Australian food industry, such as:

  • For Sara Lee, the deal will save the business from liquidation, and secure the jobs of about 200 workers. The deal will also allow the business to continue its operations and distribution in Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East, under the Sara Lee brand and other private labels.
  • For the Quinns, the deal will add a new product category to their portfolio, and enable them to leverage their experience and expertise in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector. The deal will also allow them to tap into the growing demand for frozen desserts, which is expected to reach US$97 billion by 2025, according to a market research report.
  • For the Australian food industry, the deal will preserve a local manufacturing and distribution capability, and support the local suppliers and customers. The deal will also demonstrate the resilience and innovation of the Australian food sector, which has been facing challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and global competition.

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