KNPC Holdco in Madison Heights, a leading manufacturer of nut and trail mix snacks sold under the Kar’s and Second Nature brands, today announced the completion of its merger with Morley Candy Makers in Clinton Township, a maker of premium confectionary products sold under the Sanders Fine Chocolatiers brand.
The merger will provide Sanders with expanded national distribution opportunities and offer Kar’s Nuts additional production and product innovation capabilities. Sanders will operate as its own division within the combined company, and the workforces of both companies will remain in place.
Sue Kar, who roasted peanuts in her home to sell outside nearby Navin Field, which later became Tiger Stadium, founded Kar’s Nuts in Detroit in 1933. Sanders was founded in 1875 when Fred Sanders Schmidt opened his first Sanders candy shop in downtown Detroit.
“As we explored strategic opportunities for Sanders, it was critical to identify a partner who truly understood and valued our brand and our employees,” says Brian Jefferson, CEO of Sanders. “We are extremely excited about this merger as we feel confident that it will preserve cherished Sanders products, bring a new level of creativity to our offerings that is sure to delight customers, and continue to take care of our employees.”
Kar’s Nuts’ acquisition of Sanders represents its first acquisition following the investment in Kar’s Nuts in March 2017 by an affiliate of Palladium Equity Partners (along with its affiliates, “Palladium”), a middle market private equity firm with approximately $2.7 billion in assets under management. Palladium and other Kar’s Nuts equity holders made follow-on investments to support the acquisition and the future growth of the combined company.
“As we consistently evaluate growth opportunities, this merger is ideal for Kar’s Nuts as we expand our reach in the snacking industry,” says Nick Nicolay, president of Kar’s Nuts. “We look forward to the Sanders family joining the Kar’s Nuts family and continuing to offer products that consumers across the country appreciate and enjoy.”
Nicolay will serve as CEO of the combined company, which will be headquartered in Madison Heights. Jefferson will remain in place through the transition with plans to retire once the two companies are fully integrated.
KPMG Corporate Finance served as financial advisor to Sanders on the transaction. Giarmarco, Mullins & Horton in Troy served as Sanders’ legal advisor, while Jaffe Raitt Heuer & Weiss served as legal advisor to Kar’s Nuts.
Kar’s and Second Nature have become two of the best-selling trail mix brands in the country, including the No. 1 selling Kar’s Sweet ‘n Salty Mix. The products are available nearly anywhere snacks are sold across the United States.
Sanders offers premium confections, artisanal chocolates, baked goods, dessert toppings, and ice cream. The company operates eight Sanders Chocolate & Ice Cream Shoppes in metro Detroit, Mackinac City, and on Mackinac Island.