Maurice Lenell Cooky to sell bakery business

by Eric Schroeder
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NORRIDGE, ILL. — Maurice Lenell Cooky Co. said it has retained Easton, Md.-based Equity Partners Inc. to find a buyer for its specialty bakery business.

Founded in 1937, Maurice Lenell operates a 58,000-square-foot plant northwest of Chicago. The company started out as a local bakery serving the Greater Chicago area and throughout the years has expanded to a national level. The company makes a variety of cookie flavors and package sizes for distribution to all segments of the retail market as well as the corporate gift industry.

Terry Cohen, president of Maurice Lenell, said the decision to seek a sale of the company under the protection of Chapter 11 bankruptcy comes in the face of a pending sale of the company’s Norridge facility.

Another factor behind the decision was the company’s bank of 20 years was acquired by another bank. Because 50% to 60% of its sales occur during the year-end holiday, Maurice Lenell’s working capital is seasonal, and the change in the company’s lender would have required a different loan structure.

Maurice Lenell has long-term and ongoing relationships with Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., K-Mart, Sam’s Club, CVS and Walgreens.

"We are small enough to react to an individual buyer’s programs for new product or packaging, and also have the capacity to produce major orders from the national big box retailers," said Dom Vitale, vice-president of sales for Maurice Lenell.

Ken Mann, a partner at Equity Partners, said the acquisition is an "excellent opportunity to acquire a profitable business with a branded product, existing customer base and tremendous growth potential. In addition to its retail channel, there is ample opportunity for expansion in the corporate gift and premium incentive markets, as well as in the fundraising industry."

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