Sunday 22 September 2019

Jelly Bean king Cullen bags €10m in Candy shares sell-off

Richard Cullen, former MD of Aran Candy, received a €10.12m windfall when he sold his remaining shareholding in the company
Richard Cullen, former MD of Aran Candy, received a €10.12m windfall when he sold his remaining shareholding in the company

Gordon Deegan

Jelly Bean king Richard Cullen received a €10.12m windfall in July when selling his remaining shareholding in the Dublin gourmet sweet firm he set up with his father 18 years ago.

Aran Candy, based in Blanchardstown, was established by father and son Peter and Richard Cullen in 1998. They identified an opportunity in the European confectionery market for an American-style high-quality jelly bean.

In May 2014, Swedish confectionery firm Cloetta acquired 75pc of Aran Candy, owner of the Jelly Bean Factory brand, for €15.5m in cash.

Now, after a stellar year for the Jelly Bean Factory in 2015, when pre-tax profits increased by 50pc to €3.9m, Mr Cullen, who served as MD of the firm, and fellow director, Triona Byrne, sold up the remaining 25pc shareholding for €11m in July.

In the deal, Mr Cullen received €10.12m, while Ms Byrne received around €880,000 with the windfalls subject to tax.

The purchased was confirmed in the latest quarterly report for Cloetta which stated that on July 4, "Cloetta Ireland Holding Ltd. acquired the remaining 25pc of the outstanding shares in Aran Candy Ltd, resulting in the settlement on the contingent consideration arising from an option agreement for an amount of 106m krona (€11m)".

The purchase was also confirmed in the latest accounts for Aran Candy Ltd filed with the Companies Office which confirmed that Mr Cullen stepped down from the board early last month.

Ms Byrne resigned from the board in October.

The two sold their 'A' shares as a result of a call option by Cloetta to acquire the remaining shares and the holders had a put option to sell their interest, both at a price determined on earnings for the year ended December 2015.

The value of the options almost doubled in one year based on Aran Candy's performance last year where revenues increased by 14pc going to €14.6m.

Separate accounts filed by Cloetta Ireland Holdings Ltd showed that the put and call option facility concerning the 'A' shares was valued at €11m at the end of December last year - up from €6.5m at the end of 2014.

Aran Candy exports 96 per cent of its production to 60 markets around the globe, with its main market in the UK.

The firm exports to the US and Canada as well as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and South Korea.

Numbers employed by the firm at its facility in Blanchardstown, Co Dublin, increased  further last year, going up from 77 to 81.

Sixty one are engaged in production, 18 in administration and two are directors.

Total pay to staff, including directors last year, reduced from €2.65m to €2.55m.

The chief factor behind the drop was the amount paid to directors declining sharply, going from €678,307 to €422,261.

Accumulated profits last year increased from €7.2m to €10.7m. The firm's shareholder funds totalled €11.7m.

During the year, cash went from €892,063 to €1.15m. The profit takes account of non-cash depreciation costs of €398,063, with operating leases going up from €360,000 to €522,446.

The company recorded a post-tax profit of €3.48m after paying corporation tax of €420,070.

Irish Independent

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