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Historic Australian chocolate brand goes under again

Manufacturing News

Century-plus-year-old chocolate company Ernest Hillier has gone bust for the second time in a decade, with WLP Restructuring Partners announcing on Wednesday that they had been appointed as voluntary administrators.

WLP are administrators to Chocolate & Confectionery Company and the related entity that own and make Ernest Hillier, a brand that dates back to 1914. 

According to Australian Associated Press, 20 employees were stood down immediately and manufacturing ceased. 

The company makes a reported 600 chocolate products at a factory in Coburg, where it also contract manufactures for “some of the world’s largest confectionery providers” said WLP.

Rising raw materials and shipping costs have been blamed.

WLP is seeking parties to recapitalise or acquire the business, ahead of a planned first creditors’ meeting on June 30.

While this process is underway, we have had to make the unfortunate decision to cease manufacturing activity and stand down employees at this stage. However, this dedicated workforce is available and keen to restart production,” said WLP Restructuring Partner, Alan Walker.

“The Company operates a significant manufacturing facility in Coburg, and the Ernest Hillier and Newman’s brands have featured on the shelves of Australia’s supermarkets for many years. We expect these supply agreements, alongside its relationships with large multi-national food and beverage providers, may appeal to potential suitors.”

Ernest Hillier previously collapsed in 2015, appointing Cor Cordis as administrators and citing difficulties including increased international cocoa prices, increased competition from imports, and the rise of free trade and niche products.

The brand was established by Ernest Hillier, a restaurateur who migrated to Australia from the United States after the San Francisco earthquake in 1906.

According to the history blog Australian food timeline, Hillier ran an American-style soda fountain at Sydney’s Imperial Skating Rink, then opened his own soda fountain at Pitt Street in 1914 and began making chocolates that year.

Picture: Hillier’s Soda Fountain at 162 Pitt Street, Sydney (credit Australian Food Timeline)


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