Browne's Chocolates saved from liquidation

By Anne Bruce and Ben Bouckley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Bankruptcy Molson coors brewing company

Browne's the Chocolatiere hopes to score new supply deals with the likes of Harrods and Waitrose
Browne's the Chocolatiere hopes to score new supply deals with the likes of Harrods and Waitrose
Former Harrods supplier Browne’s Chocolates has been bought out of liquidation by entrepreneurs who previously transformed a Cornish brewer, can reveal.

The company, which is now called Browne’s the Chocolatiere, was taken on by Joe Keohane and Nick Baker at the end of March.

The new owners bought the assets of Browne’s Chocolates from insolvency practitioner Neville & Co of Plymouth for an undisclosed sum, and plan to restart production shortly.

Keohane is md of the new company, registered at a Bristol address largely used by TLT Solicitors. He and Baker exited from Rock-based brewery Sharp’s in January after the business was sold to Molson Coors in a £20m deal. During their time at the brewery they boosted its turnover sevenfold.

Employees return

Half of the Browne’s 20-strong workforce has now been rehired and have been cleaning the factory ready for production to restart.

Discussions are being held with retailers such as Harrods, Waitrose and Duchy Originals, which Browne’s previously supplied, to try and resume supply deals with them.

Chairman of the Okehampton Chamber of Commerce Ian Bailey told “This is really good news for the area, we see this as another positive move as Okehampton gets back on its feet.”

Action at PoleStar site

Another local casualty was also showing signs of recovery, he added. The former Okehampton Desserts (PoleStar Foods) cheesecake site, which employed 232 people, went into administration in February.

But Bailey said its new owner Devonshire Desserts (part of the Country Style Foods group), which acquired the firm's plant, machinery and freehold shortly afterwards, was getting the site back up and running.

“They are employing again, they have just taken on 30 extra staff, engineers who are working on the machinery at the site,”​ he said.

Joe Wood, director, Devonshire Desserts, was unavailable for comment.

However, one industry insider told in early April that he doubted whether production would restart at Okehampton or at Country Style's other newly acquired former PoleStar site​ at Leamington anytime soon.

"My view is that ... they will move any equipment that they want to their existing sites, whilst taking capacity permanently out of the dessert market,"​ he said.

Related topics Confectionery

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