ST. PAUL, MINN. — Spell Capital Partners, L.L.C., a Minneapolis-based private equity company, has finalized the acquisition of St. Paul-based Pearson’s Candy Co. from Brynwood Partners Management, L.L.C. Terms of the sale were not available.
The purchase by Spell Capital Partners brings Minnesota ownership back to Pearson’s, which was founded as a confectionery distribution company in Minneapolis by P. Edward Pearson with help from his four brothers in 1909. Nut Goodie Bar was the first product manufactured by the company in 1912. The iconic Salted Nut Roll was introduced in 1933. The company was moved to St. Paul in 1950 and purchased the Trudeau Candy Co. in 1951. In 1969 the Pearson family sold the company to ITT/Continental Baking, which sold it to The Confections Group in 1979. Two employees, Larry Hassler and Judith Johnston, bought the company in 1985. For a time, the bulk of Pearson’s business was producing General Mills’ Nature Valley Granola Bars, but when it lost that business, the company faced financial difficulty. It was sold to Brynwood Partners in 2011.
In addition to Nut Goodie Bar and Salted Nut Roll, Pearson’s brands include Mint Patties, Coconut Patties, Bun Bar and Bit-O-Honey, a brand purchased from Nestle in 2013. Several of Pearson’s products are regional, while others have national and international distribution. Pearson’s launched 7th Street Confections in 2016, its first new brand since 1933, to appeal to health-conscious consumers.
The company was rated as the 42nd largest candy company in North America with revenue of $89 million in fiscal 2018. Spell Capital said Pearson’s management team will remain in place. It intends to modernize Pearson’s manufacturing plant, which was built in 1959. Pearson’s has about 200 employees.