Australian chocolate retailer Darrell Lea, which has stores across Australia, New Zealand and the United States, was placed into voluntary administration Tuesday with 700 jobs at risk.
The confectionery firm, an iconic brand in Australia that was set up in 1927 and is still owned by the same family, said the action was taken over concerns about its ability to meet ongoing financial obligations.
"We are undertaking an urgent review of the business with a view to preparing Darrell Lea for sale as a going concern," said Mark Robinson of PPB Advisory, which has been placed in charge of administering the company.
"We will work with all stakeholders including employees and their representatives, licensees, customers and suppliers to ensure the business continues to operate effectively."
The company employs about 700 people at its Sydney manufacturing base and across its 69 owned and licensed stores and 1,800 retail outlets in Australia, New Zealand and United States.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard said she hoped a buyer could be found quickly.
"I certainly hope that we can see someone step forward and take this business over and keep that very famous Darrell Lea brand going for us," she said.
"We all know Darrell Lea and its products, we have all been into its shops."
Robinson said potential bidders from Australia and overseas had already expressed interest in the company, which started life when London-born Harry Lea began making chocolate in his Sydney fruit shop 85 years ago.
Source: AFP Global Edition