Ferrero snaps up major US ice cream brands

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

Wells Ice Cream is now part of Ferrero. Pic: Wells Enterprises
Wells Ice Cream is now part of Ferrero. Pic: Wells Enterprises

Related tags Ferrero Chocolate Confectionery Ice cream acquisition

The Ferrero Group has bought Wells Enterprises, maker of ice cream brands Blue Bunny and Bomb Pop, the two parties have announced.

Ferrero and Wells are both family companies with extensive confectionery and ice cream experience, quality products, proud heritage and a strong portfolio of well-loved brands. The acquisition is part of Ferrero's strategic growth ambitions for the ice cream category and Wells' vision for accelerated growth.

Ferrero – which started in 1946 as a small pastry shop in Alba, Italy – has grown to become a global leader in sweet-packaged foods, including confectionery, biscuits, ice cream and better-for-you-snacking. Its brands include Nutella, Kinder, Tic Tac and Ferrero Rocher.

Iowa-based Wells has become the world's largest family-owned and managed ice cream company since it was founded in 1913 as a dairy delivery wagon business.

Once the transaction closes, Mike Wells, member of the founding family and current chief executive officer and chief engagement officer, will serve as an adviser to support the transition and maintain his active role in the local community. Current Wells President Liam Killeen will be named Chief Executive Officer, and the existing leadership team will remain in place.

"We are a 100-year-old company focused on adapting for the next 100 years​," said Wells. "Ferrero is a likeminded company with a commitment to providing high-quality, premium sweet-packaged food products that bring joy to consumers around the world. This acquisition puts the business in the best possible hands, and I look forward to supporting the entire Wells team and Ferrero with the transition​."

North American expansion

This deal continues the Ferrero Group's expansion agenda in North America following the successfully managed acquisitions of Fannie May (2017), former Nestlé US confectionery business and Kellogg company's cookies and fruit snacks businesses (2018). Ferrero's North American footprint expansion has been further strengthened through its related parties, with the acquisition of Ferrara Candy Company (2017) - manufacturer and US candy market category leader of well-loved brands Nerds, Trolli, Sweet-tarts and Black Forest.

The company has also expanded its capabilities in the region, with a new Innovation Centre and R&D Lab in Chicago, as well as two major expansions to its Bloomington, Illinois plant. The strong growth means Ferrero and its related parties now count more than 8,000 employees, nine offices and 18 plants in North America.

"I am delighted that Wells has agreed to join the Ferrero Group. This represents a win-win partnership, bringing together ice cream experts and confectionery champions. Together, we have the power of one and are well placed to grow and compete in the ice cream market​," said Giovanni Ferrero, Executive Chairman of the Ferrero Group.

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