Jelly Bean king Richard Cullen nets sweet windfall with shareholding sale

Jelly Beans

Jelly Bean king Richard Cullen has received a €10m windfall after selling his remaining shareholding in the Dublin gourmet sweet firm he set up with his father 18 years ago.

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

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

After a stellar year for the Jelly Bean factory in 2015 where profits increased by 50% to €3.9m, Mr Cullen — who served as managing director of the firm and fellow director, Triona Byrne — sold the remaining 25% 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 acquisition is confirmed in the latest quarterly report for Cloetta, which states that, on July 4, “Cloetta Ireland Holding Ltd acquired the remaining 25% 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 is also confirmed in the latest accounts for Aran Candy Ltd filed with the Companies Office which reveal 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 strong performance last year, when revenues rose by 14%to €14.6m.

Separate accounts filed by Cloetta Ireland Holdings Ltd show 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% of its production to 60 export markets around the globe with its main market in the UK.

The firm exports to the US and Canada while it also exports to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and South Korea.

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

There are 61 staff 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 falling sharply from some €678,307 to €422,261.

Accumulated profits at the firm last year increased from €7.2m to €10.7m.

The firm’s shareholder funds totalled some €11.7m.

During the year, the firm’s cash increased from €892,063 to €1.15m.

The company’s profit last year takes account of non-cash depreciation costs of €398,063 with operating leases going up from €360,000 to €522,446.


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