Mars Inc., McLean, Va., announced Oct. 6 that it has finalized its purchase of Wrigley into a newly-merged company that will rebrand itself Mars Wrigley Confectionery. Existing Wrigley president and 30-year company veteran Martin Radvan will oversee operations, and the business will be headquartered in Chicago.
Mars, which makes famous brands like Snickers, M&M's and Twix, said the merger was possible after it recently accelerated the purchase of a stake held by Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway. Berkshire has owned a portion of Wrigley since it was bought by Mars in 2008. The chocolate business has been based in Mount Olive, N.J., while Wrigley's offices are in Chicago's Goose Island neighborhood.
With just less than 300 employees at its Chicago headquarters, Wrigley Americas says that number shouldn't change much with the combination. Mars has about 1,700 employees in the Chicago area, working at four manufacturing plants and in some shared space at Wrigley's headquarters. No decisions have yet been made on the "regional or market hub locations (or) the implications for our associates in those businesses," said Denise Young, spokesperson for Wrigley Americas.
The units will remain separate for the time being, with a gradual phase-in expected next year. Privately held Mars said the combination will allow it to expedite its growth in the rapidly evolving candy market. Mars is already the country's largest confectionery company in sales.
Wrigley makes gum, mints and fruit-flavored candy including Skittles, Starburst, Altoids, Lifesavers, Extra and Orbit. Aside from its candy business, Mars also makes food like Combos and Uncle Ben's rice, as well as pet food brands including Sheba, Iams and Pedigree.
"The new segment, which brings together the successful century-long heritages of Mars Chocolate and Wrigley, will help us serve our customers better, address consumer trends and accelerate growth opportunities in a vibrant global confectionery category," the company stated.