Ferrero Group to acquire Wells Enterprises

Dec. 12, 2022
Ferrero and Wells Enterprises announced an agreement for Ferrero to acquire Wells, its operations and its ice cream brands, including Blue Bunny, Blue Ribbon Classics, Bomb Pop and Halo Top.

The Ferrero Group and Wells Enterprises announced an agreement for Ferrero to acquire Wells, its operations and its ice cream brands, which include Blue Bunny, Blue Ribbon Classics, Bomb Pop and Halo Top. According to the announcement, the acquisition is part of Ferrero's strategic growth ambitions for the ice cream category and Wells' vision for accelerated growth. The transaction, subject to customary closing conditions, is expected to close in early 2023.

Ferrero and Wells are both family companies with extensive confectionery and ice cream experience, quality products, proud heritage and a strong portfolio of well-loved brands. 

Ferrero – which started in 1946 as a small pastry shop in Alba, Italy – has grown to become a global leader in sweet-packaged foods, including confectionery, biscuits, ice cream and better-for-you-snacking. Its brands include Nutella, Kinder, Tic Tac and Ferrero Rocher. 

Wells has become the world's largest family owned and managed ice cream company since it was founded in 1913 as a dairy delivery wagon business.

Wells Enterprises will remain a stand-alone business with its offices in Le Mars, Iowa, and production operations in Le Mars; Henderson, Nevada; and Dunkirk, New York.

After the transaction closes, Mike Wells, member of the founding family and current chief executive officer and chief engagement officer, will serve as an adviser to support the transition and maintain his active role in the Le Mars community.

Current Wells President Liam Killeen will be named chief executive officer, and the existing leadership team will remain in place.

"We are a 100-year-old company focused on adapting for the next 100 years," Mike Wells said in the announcement. "Ferrero is a likeminded company with a commitment to providing high-quality, premium sweet-packaged food products that bring joy to consumers around the world. This acquisition puts the business in the best possible hands, and I look forward to supporting the entire Wells team and Ferrero with the transition."

"This is an exciting day that accelerates growth and ensures a bright future for our company and everyone associated with it," Killeen said in the announcement. "Ferrero's brands and reputation for world-class quality are a perfect match with what has made Wells so successful – and we will be even better together going forward."

This deal continues the Ferrero Group's expansion agenda in North America following the successfully managed acquisitions of Fannie May (2017), former Nestlé U.S. confectionery business and Kellogg company's cookies and fruit snacks businesses (2018). Ferrero's North American footprint expansion has been further strengthened through its related parties, with the acquisition of Ferrara Candy Company (2017) – manufacturer and U.S. candy market category leader of brands Nerds, Trolli, Sweet-tarts and Black Forest.

The company has also expanded its capabilities in the region, with a new Innovation Center and R&D Lab in Chicago, as well as two major expansions to its Bloomington, Illinois, plant. The strong growth means Ferrero and its related parties now count more than 8,000 employees, nine offices and 18 plants in North America.

"I am delighted that Wells has agreed to join the Ferrero Group,” Giovanni Ferrero, executive chairman of the Ferrero Group, said in the announcement. “This represents a win-win partnership, bringing together ice cream experts and confectionery champions. Together, we have the power of one and are well placed to grow and compete in the ice cream market. As Wells transitions from one family to another, we are committed to a long and successful future, building on their legacy of fantastic products and looking after the welfare of employees and the wider community in Le Mars. I strongly believe that Wells and Ferrero are the perfect match and would like to thank Mike Wells and the Wells family for entrusting ownership of this great company to us."

Lapo Civiletti, chief executive officer of the Ferrero Group, added in the announcement: "I would like to extend a very warm welcome to everyone at Wells, a remarkable ice cream producer with a fantastic portfolio of brands that consumers love. I would like to congratulate everyone for the impressive success of the company so far and express my full confidence in the management team. I am looking forward to working with Wells as we embark on a new era together with many exciting opportunities ahead."

Terms of the transaction are not being disclosed.


Left to right: Ferrero North America Senior Vice President of Marketing Catherine Bertrac; Bloomington, Illinois Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe; Illinois Governor JB Pritzker; Ferrero North America President & Chief Business Officer Alanna Cotton; U.S. Senator Dick Durbin; Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity Sylvia Garcia.

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