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Rich's buys Carvel cake maker, Aussie baker
Two moves aimed at expanding Buffalo firm's frozen desserts, foreign business

Rich Products Corp. has acquired two businesses a maker of Carvel ice cream cakes and a leading Australian baked goods wholesaler.

The Buffalo-based food giant bought Connecticut-based Celebration Foods, which makes frozen desserts and some products under the M&M's, Oreo and Snickers brands, and longtime business partner VSE International, based in Sydney.

The acquisitions, finalized in December, are aimed at expanding Rich's frozen dessert line and its Australian presence. They will add about 650 workers to the company, which declined to provide the purchase price.

"What excites us," said spokesman Dwight Gram, "is exclusive rights to the Carvel brand (in places such as supermarkets)."

Carvel is a subsidiary of Focus Brands, which has an exclusive agreement with Celebration Foods.

Celebration Foods, which has a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in New Britain, Conn., will expand Rich's frozen dessert production, now centered on the West Coast, to the East Coast and offer experience with direct-to-store distribution.

"We now have the nationwide manufacturing capability to effectively support our customers in the U.S. and Canada -- a capability unmatched by our competitors," Gram said.

VSE International, which had been making Rich's Australian products, will give Rich Products a local manufacturing presence in that country.

"The definition of a good acquisition for Rich's," CEO Bill Gisel said, "is one that brings long-term growth and value through the addition of interesting products, solid operations and talented people. Celebration Foods and VSE International are two such companies."

The acquisitions are part of a strategy to strengthen the company's North American manufacturing presence and core products, such as cakes, ice cream cakes and cheesecakes, and to expand its Australian business.

e-mail: vsherry@buffnews.com

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