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Nutella maker to buy two 1-800-Flowers chocolate brands

Customers browse the shelves at the Fannie May

Customers browse the shelves at the Fannie May candy store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago on Nov. 23, 2010. Credit: AP / M. Spencer Green Inc. said Wednesday it agreed to sell its Fannie May and Harry London chocolate brands to Italian chocolatier Ferrero International S.A., maker of Nutella and Tic Tac, for $115 million.

The brands being sold by the Carle Place-based online florist and gift company belong to its Fannie May Confections Brands unit. The deal by Ferrero, one of the world’s largest chocolate confectionery companies, to buy that unit is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to close by May 30.

“This transaction will further strengthen our balance sheet while concurrently reducing the working capital requirements in our business model,” 1-800-Flowers’ chief executive Chris McCann said in a statement.

Ferrero will acquire Fannie May’s e-commerce business, 79 retail stores located primarily around Chicago, Illinois, a manufacturing facility in North Canton, Ohio, and two temperature-controlled warehouse and distribution facilities in Maple Heights, Ohio, and Chicago.

Ferrero was founded in 1946 in the town of Alba in Piedmont, Italy. Its brands include Ferrero Rocher, Raffaello and Kinder chocolates, as well as Nutella and Tic Tac.

“We have long admired Fannie May’s premium brand, products and people, and believe Fannie May is an extraordinarily good fit with Ferrero,” Giovanni Ferrero, chief executive of Ferrero Group, said in a statement.

1-800-Flowers and Ferrero will also enter into a partnership, expected to be signed on or before closing of the sale, that will provide 1-800-Flowers with U.S. distribution rights for Fannie May, Harry London and certain Ferrero products.

1-800-Flowers bought Fannie May in 2006 for $85 million. Fannie May was founded in downtown Chicago in 1920.

1-800-Flowers’ other brands include Harry & David gourmet gift baskets, The Popcorn Factory, and Cheryl’s cookies.

In after-hours trading 1-800-Flowers’s stock was unchanged at $9.60. The stock is up more than 12 percent in the last 12 months.

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