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Australia’s oldest chocolate company Hillier goes bust

Finance report for Wednesday

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Australia’s oldest, continually-operating chocolate company, Ernest Hillier Chocolates, has collapsed into voluntary administration again, with dozens of employees set to lose jobs.

The Melbourne-based business produces more than 600 chocolate products that are stocked across major supermarkets, including Woolworths, Coles and Aldi.

It announced on Wednesday it had appointed voluntary administrators after struggling to keep up with operating costs.

Alan Walker and Glenn Livingstone of WLP Restructuring Partners were appointed as voluntary administrators to Chocolate & Confectionery Company Pty Ltd, which owns Ernest Hillier Chocolates.

“It’s unfortunate such a storied chocolate manufacturer has encountered distress amid rising operating costs but we are working with all stakeholders to do everything possible to save this iconic brand,” Mr Walker said.

“We are working closely with all affected parties as we move with urgency to understand the business’ affairs and find a suitable buyer or investor.”

All manufacturing will cease and about 60 employees will be stood down, effective immediately. Mr Walker said the workers would remain on standby to return if the business could be sold.

It marks the second time the company, which has operated since 1914, has gone bust.

In January 2015, the previous owners went into voluntary administration citing rising cocoa prices and increased competition but emerged several months later and went on to produce goods.

The company was launched by Ernest Hillier in 1914.

A first statutory meeting of the company’s creditors will be held on June 30.

-with AAP

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