Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Clark Bar Fans Get Temporary Reprieve Mass. Candy Maker to Continue Production

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Clark Bar Fans Get Temporary Reprieve Mass. Candy Maker to Continue Production

Article excerpt

The troubled Revere, Mass.-based maker of Clark Bars, Necco Wafers and other iconic candies will continue operating past Sunday's plant closing deadline, but just how long production will continue remains uncertain in the face of a bankruptcy court auction set for later this month.

In March, the New England Confectionery Co. - maker of the Clark Bar since buying the rights at a Pittsburgh bankruptcy auction in 1999 that ended hometown production - announced it likely would shut down May 6 unless it found a buyer.

The news set off panic buying among candy retailers and nostalgic consumers who feared their beloved sweet treats - which also include Sky Bars, Candy Buttons and the Valentine's Day staple Sweethearts conversation hearts - would disappear.

In the meantime, the company last month filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after three vendors tried to force it into an involuntary Chapter 7 liquidation. The company, which was sold to a private equity firm in 2007 that was purchased by another private equity firm in 2016, estimated liabilities at about $152 million.

A hearing to review bids to buy the company is scheduled for May 23 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Boston. The bids, which are due by May 18, can be made for the entire company or for individual product lines.

In court filings, Necco says it has a deal with the Boston-based liquidator Gordon Brothers - the company currently handling the liquidation of Toys 'R' Us - to buy all assets for $13.3 million.

"Buyer intends to market and sell the purchased assets so as to yield total proceeds in excess of the purchase price," CEO Michael McGee said in a court filing.

The bankruptcy trustee in the case told The Boston Globe that if Gordon is the successful bidder, it has agreed to continue operations through Nov. 30. The trustee, Harry B. Murphy of Murphy & King in Boston, also said he was holding out hope that someone would come forward to buy the plant and keep it in business. …

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