Italian confectioner Ferrero International has made a £112 million offer to buy British high-street chocolate retailer Thorntons, the parties have announced.
The news saw shares in Thorntons jump 42% as shareholders welcomed the news following a tough 12 months. The business issued a profit warning in December 2014 after a worrying slowdown in sales.
Subsequently the company posted disappointing sales and profit figures in March this year. Sales fell 8.2% to £128.2 for the second half of 2014. This saw pre-tax profits drop by 8.8% to £6.5 million.
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By contrast Ferrero International, producer of the hugely-popular Nutella as well as eighties staple Ferrero Rocher, has enjoyed extremely healthy profits across the past 24 months.
Sales of €8.4 billion were announced in the summer of last year. The company employs more than 25,000 people and is one of Italy’s biggest brands.
Founder Michele Ferrero, who died in February of this year, was named among the 30 wealthiest people on the planet by Forbes in 2014. He was reportedly the richest man in Italy at the time of his death.
The Thorntons board has urges shareholders to back the deal. Chairman Paul Wilkinson said that Ferrero, with its “strong family heritage”, would represent a “good cultural fit” for Thorntons.
Ferrero currently owns 29.9% of the business after buying the shares from top shareholder Crystal Amber.