News Release

Carlyle Cardinal Ireland Invests in Lily O’Brien’s, the Irish manufacturer of premium chocolates and desserts


Carlyle Cardinal Ireland joins the founder to support future growth of the business

Carlyle Cardinal Ireland (CCI), the Irish private equity fund founded by The Carlyle Group (NASDAQ: CG) and Cardinal Capital Group today announced it has made a significant investment in Lily O’Brien’s, the Irish manufacturer of premium chocolates and desserts sold in 16 countries.

Equity for this investment comes from CCI, a new fund that invests in small and medium-sized businesses across Ireland.  Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Founded in 1992 from her kitchen in Kildare, Mary Ann O’Brien has grown Lily O’Brien’s into a global brand name in premium chocolates and desserts now employing 260 people at peak production times.  As well as a burgeoning online business, Lily O’Brien’s supplies branded products to many high street retailers and airlines.

The company has driven strong product growth outside of the UK and Ireland, with 2012 sales to Australia increasing by 370% between 2011 and 2012, and sales to the U.S. increasing by 100% in the same period. 

Robert Easton, Managing Director of CCI said: “Lily O’Brien’s is a great example of an Irish business with a world-class reputation.  We are delighted to join the founder and management team to continue to grow the business.  The company's growth has accelerated in recent years, thanks to their unique recipes delivering award-winning products fuelling increasing demand in the domestic and international marketplace. Our investment will help Lily O’Brien’s takes their chocolates and desserts to an even wider audience of consumers around the world.”

Founder Mary Ann O’Brien, who will continue to play an active role within the company, said: “The success of our business is thanks to Eoin Donnelly, managing director, our management team, staff and loyal customer base. While we have grown Lily O’Brien’s from a kitchen table business into an international brand, the investment from CCI, along with CCI's global network should ensure Lily O'Brien's continues to grow to the next level.  The CCI team has a proven track record of working with businesses such as ours and we are excited about what we can achieve in the coming years.

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The Carlyle Group
Catherine Armstrong          
+44 20 7894 1632

Cardinal Capital Group
Catherine Troy
+ 353 1 631 9730

Carlyle Cardinal Ireland
Carlyle Cardinal Ireland is a joint venture between Carlyle Group and Cardinal Capital Group.

The Carlyle Group
The Carlyle Group (NASDAQ: CG) is a global alternative asset manager with $185 billion of assets under management across 122 funds and 81 fund of funds vehicles as of September 30, 2013. Carlyle invests across four segments - Corporate Private Equity, Real Assets, Global Market Strategies and Fund of Funds Solutions - in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, North America and South America.

Cardinal Capital Group (“Cardinal”)
Cardinal Capital Group (“Cardinal”) is a specialist investment management firm with offices in London and Dublin. Cardinal’s business activities encompass alternative investment management including hedge funds, private equity and real estate. Cardinal Asset Management Limited (UK) is registered and authorised by the Financial Services Authority as a financial advisor and maintains regulatory approval to conduct a wide range of financial services activities.   Cardinal was founded in 2003 by Nigel McDermott and Nick Corcoran.

About Lily O’Brien’s
Lily O'Brien's Chocolates started life as the brainchild of Mary Ann O'Brien who in 1992 discovered her true passion for all things chocolate. Embarking on a journey of discovery, Mary Ann honed her chocolate-making skills among world class chefs and chocolatiers in both South Africa and Europe before starting her own mini enterprise from her Kildare kitchen. With little more than two saucepans, a wooden spoon and her then toddler, Lily, acting as production manager Mary Ann began to create high quality chocolate recipes for friends and family.  Not satisfied with the scale of her enterprise she soon expanded in the hope of positioning excellent Irish chocolate on the world map. Naming the company after her daughter Lily seemed like the most natural thing to do at the time and since then Lily O'Brien's chocolates has established itself as one of Ireland's best-loved chocolatiers.

With Mary Ann still at the helm of the business, the passion that first inspired her chocolate honeycomb hedgehogs is still present in every aspect of the business, and family values remain at the very core of Lily O'Brien's. Based in the heart of Co. Kildare, Mary Ann and her team continue to develop mouth-watering chocolate creations using the finest quality ingredients.  

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