Manufacturing News

Darrell Lea readies for the next 95 years

Manufacturing News

Much loved confectionery brand Darrell Lea may be 95 years old this year, but the business is refreshing itself for the next century.

According to Austrade in the past four years the iconic Sydney company acquired and relaunched the Life Savers brand, launched new chocolate blocks and innovated to drive growth in the confectionery category.

It also focused on growing exports of its soft liquorice to the United States where consumers can’t get enough of this product.

The US is Darrell Lea’s largest export market and accounts for 15–20 percent of its total revenue, though Darrell Lea is working to expand its already extensive sales channels and launch more products into the market.

The UK is another market with the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement which will eliminate tariffs on Australian liquorice and chocolate seeing the company test products in the market.

Darrell Lea’s General Manager for New Zealand and International Jason Clements said: “We want to take everything Australians know and love about Darrell Lea and take it overseas.

“Our export strategy is to keep it simple.

“We go deep rather than wide, focusing on expanding a small number of products in select markets. ”

“It only takes a handful of successful SKUs in a market like the US to have a very successful export business.’

Austrade is supporting Darrell Lea’s US and UK ambitions, sharing market knowledge and connecting the company to distributors and stakeholders.

Darrell Lea was founded in 1927 by the Lea family. Today, the 400-person company is one of Australasia’s largest confectionery manufacturers with its Australian and New Zealand factories manufacturing liquorice, chocolate, coconut ice and Rocklea Road.

In 2018, the company bought the Life Savers brand, adding lollies like Fruit Tingles and Sherbert Fizz to its portfolio.

Export was a small part of Darrell Lea’s business until 2012, when the Quinn family acquired the company after it went into receivership.

Now owned by Quadrant Private Equity the company’s export sales have trebled in recent years, with growth forecast to increase in the future.

The US Darrell Lea’s popularity is due in large part to its difference from American liquorice.

Its soft black liquorice is plant-based, 100 percent palm oil-free, made with natural flavours and contains no preservatives. American liquorice is harder, chewier and often filled with artificial ingredients.

Clements said: “Our high-quality product is better in every way: better ingredients, better taste, better texture and better for you.

“We were first-in-market with a soft liquorice. Today, Australian liquorice is a sub-segment of the US liquorice category, thanks to Darrell Lea.”

knowledge, whether it’s sharing expertise or contacts, to maximise the outcomes,’ says Clements.

Clements advises exporters to consider employing people in-market, as nobody knows your brand like you do.

When the company moved from a distributor model to its own people, the step change was significant.

“Liquorice remains the heart of our US business.

“But with manufacturing expertise across all confectionery products, there is significant opportunity to grow new product development and distribution. We are extremely excited about where the future lies.”

Editor’s note: this story was adapted from one first published on the Austrade website.

Picture: Austrade

Share this Story
Manufacturing News

Stay Informed

Go to Top