Swiss food company Nestlé has conditionally agreed to divest its local confectionery brands in New Zealand to Quadrant Private Equity, which owns the RJ’s and Darrell Lea confectionery brands.

Nestlé elected to sell its confectionery business following a review of the company’s operations in Australia and New Zealand.

The Swiss food producer expects the selling of its New Zealand-based confectionery brands to allow the company to focus its attention on its major local chocolate, baking and medicated lozenge businesses.

"Nestlé New Zealand’s Mackintosh’s, Heards, Black Knight and Fabulicious Red Licorice confectionary brands will be acquired by Quadrant Private Equity under the agreement."

Nestlé New Zealand’s Mackintosh’s, Heards, Black Knight and Fabulicious Red Licorice confectionary brands will be acquired by Quadrant Private Equity under the agreement.

Quadrant intends to continue manufacturing these brands within New Zealand following the deal’s completion.

Nestlé will also divest its other Oceania brands to Quadrant under the proposal, including Life Savers and Oddfellows.

The company is currently conducting negotiations with employees based at its factory in Wiri, Auckland.

It is expected to eliminate 55 jobs at the facility due to the planned sale.

Nestlé Confectionery general manager Martin Brown noted that the company regrets the fact that the proposal will result in job losses at Wiri.

Brown added: “This doesn’t reflect on the personal efforts of our staff.

“It has been based on a careful consideration of how to focus our activities and resources, recognising that our sugar confectionery range in New Zealand is largely made up of smaller local brands.”

The Wiri plant manufactures a wide range of smaller confectionery lines and the majority of its products are sold in New Zealand.

Nestlé plans to focus on the production of culinary products at its Wiri facility in future, including on Maggi soups, recipe mixes and a wide range of products for professional food service, both within the country and for export markets.

Quadrant noted that it intends to offer the impacted Nestlé personnel an employment opportunity at its factory in Levin.