Italian maker of Nutella buys Fannie May

Ferrero, the Italian candy giant best known for its Nutella spread, has agreed to buy onetime Chicago-based chocolatier Fannie May for $115 million, with plans to expand retail sales across the U.S.

The deal, which is expected to close by the end of May, will move the historic Fannie May and Harry London brands from current owner 1-800-Flowers.com to privately owned Ferrero, the world’s third-largest chocolate manufacturer. It also involves a strategic partnership to include select candy products in the online florist’s gift baskets.

“We are confident there are significant opportunities to enhance Fannie May’s growth, leveraging Ferrero’s capabilities to sell new products through a substantially larger base of channels,” Paul Chibe, president and CEO of Ferrero North America, said in a news release.

The deal was announced Wednesday. It requires regulatory approval.

Nutella maker tells FDA, 'We're not just for dessert anymore'

Nutella maker tells FDA, ‘We’re not just for dessert anymore’

U.S. consumers are putting more of their Nutella on toast and less on ice cream, and now the federal government may change its view of the smearable treat.

The Food and Drug Administration is looking into reducing Nutella’s serving size to one tablespoon from two because Americans are now using…

U.S. consumers are putting more of their Nutella on toast and less on ice cream, and now the federal government may change its view of the smearable treat.

The Food and Drug Administration is looking into reducing Nutella’s serving size to one tablespoon from two because Americans are now using…

(Anna Edney)

Ferrero is expected to top $11 billion in sales this year, with distribution across more than 160 countries. The 70-year-old company entered the U.S. market in 1969 with Tic Tac breath mints and subsequently introduced Ferrero Rocher pralines and Nutella hazelnut spread.

The acquisition of Fannie May is the latest chapter for a chocolate company with a rich Chicago history.

Founded in Chicago in 1920, Fannie May became a well-known manufacturer of premium chocolates, with stores across the Midwest. For more than 80 years, Fannie May chocolate was made at a plant on West Jackson Boulevard.

Fannie May filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2004, blaming its woes on aggressive expansion after the 1992 acquisition of Fanny Farmer Candies, an East Coast chain. The assets and brands were purchased out of bankruptcy by Alpine Confections, which reopened 31 company-owned stores but closed the Chicago plant and moved manufacturing to Ohio.

rchannick@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @RobertChannick


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