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16 May 2004
Scotland on Sunday
McCowans tucks in with bon-bon buy-out

McCOWANS, the Scots-based maker of famous Highland toffee, has paid close on seven figures to buy out the English sub-contracting manufacturer of its bon bon brand.

Business partners Alan McCafferty and Ian Steven completed a £3m management buy-in a year ago to take over the confectionery favourite from owners Phideas, a Dutch consortium.

Now the ambitious pair have bought out the licensing agreement it has with Ashbury Confectionery and intend to deal directly with top-named customers like Cadbury, Safeway and the Co-op.

From his Larbert base, McCafferty, the firmís managing director, said: "Weíve acquired the plant and customer goodwill associated with the bon bon business.

"The deal is part of an expansion programme to bring new products to market. Itís an exciting time for this company and we have a fantastic opportunity to grow and develop the business to its full potential."

The firm was established by Andrew McCowan 80 years ago and quickly became a household favourite between the wars for its toffee and fudge. Phideas acquired the company in 1996.

McCowans now employs a 70-strong workforce at its Central Belt factory and plans to increase that number to 100.

The firm recently launched a Vimto bon bon following a deal with Vimto Soft Drinks and is on the lookout for more joint ventures.

McCafferty added: "There is plenty of potential for growth in our business model to further develop McCowans. This latest transaction represents a critical part of our strategy to develop products but for adults as well as children.

"We plan to appeal to the major multiples as well as the cash and carry trade."

The MBI and Ashbury acquisition was facilitated by Clydesdale Bank.

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