Russell Stover Candies

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Russell Stover Chocolates
TypeSubsidiary[1]
IndustryChocolate confections
Founded1923; 99 years ago (1923)
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
FoundersRussell William Stover
Clara Stover
Headquarters,
U.S.
Number of locations
Manufacturing - Iola, Kansas; Abilene, Kansas; Corsicana, Texas
ProductsChocolate Confections
OwnerLindt & Sprüngli
ParentLindt & Sprüngli
SubsidiariesWhitman's and Pangburn's Chocolates
Websitewww.russellstover.com
Christian Kent Nelson, co-founder with Russell William Stover, of the "Eskimo Pie" ice cream bar, portrait from 1922
Russell Stover headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri

Russell Stover Chocolates, Inc., founded by Russell Stover, an American chemist and entrepreneur, and his wife Clara Stover in 1923, is an American supplier of candy, chocolate, and confections. The corporate headquarters are in Kansas City, Missouri.

In July 2014 the company was acquired by the Swiss chocolatier Lindt & Sprüngli for $1.6 billion.The company operates as an independent subsidiary and still based in Kansas City.[2][3]

History[edit]

Russell Stover Candies did not start with candy. In 1921, Russell Stover and his partner at the time, Iowa schoolteacher Christian Kent Nelson, created a chocolate-dipped ice cream sandwich. At a dinner party, Russell's wife Clara Stover suggested calling it an Eskimo Pie. The product was a success for them, and they began licensing manufacturers to produce it.[4][unreliable source?]

As other companies[which?] soon began to release similar chocolate-dipped ice cream products, Russell Stover was nearly forced out of business.[citation needed] The Stovers sold their share of the company for $25,000 and moved to Denver, Colorado.[when?] In 1923, Russell and Clara created a new company from their home, packaging and selling boxed chocolates. They were originally named "Mrs. Stover's Bungalow Candies". However, 20 years later, in 1943, it was renamed Russell Stover Candies.[5]

Expansion[edit]

Louis Ward and a partner bought the company $7.5 million in 1960. He served as the company's chairman and president until 1993, when he retired after suffering a stroke. His sons, Scott H. and Thomas Ward, took over the business.[6] The company expanded its chocolate brands by acquiring Whitman's that year and Pangburn's in 1999.[5][7]

Acquisition by Lindt & Sprüngli and restructuring[edit]

Swiss chocolate maker Lindt bought Russell Stover Chocolates from the Ward family on July 14, 2014.[8] Integrating Russell Stover Chocolates into Lindt group resulted in a structural reorganization of the company; this included tripling its marketing team and shifting focus away from seasonal products.[9]

Attention was also given to developing its offering of sugar-free products.[9] Stevia, a natural sweetener, replaced the artificial sweetener sucralose by 2019, and the packaging was redesigned to attract a wider audience, hoping to reverse a three-year trend of declining sales.[10][11] In 2020, Russell Stover Chocolates was the top sugar-free chocolate company in the United States.[12]

Spurred by strong sales in 2019, Russell Stover Chocolates announced plans to expand its Iola, Kansas, Abilene, Kansas, and Corsicana, Texas facilities. It also announced that its facility in Montrose, Colorado and several retail stores and distribution centers across the US would close in 2021.[13]

Response to the COVID-19 pandemic[edit]

Early during the coronavirus pandemic, Russell Stover Chocolates was among the Lindt brands which significantly discounted its Easter candy in 2020, anticipating a decline in sales of around 14%.[14]

In June 2020, the company issued a WARN Act letter stating that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, planned closures would be happening months earlier than originally planned, with the last of the impacted employees being laid off by the end of August 2020.[15] The closure of the Montrose plant eliminated around 300 jobs.[16]

The company was among those that participated in a July 2020 virtual job fair hosted by the Kansas public workforce program, designed to allow jobseekers impacted by the pandemic to find employment while still practicing social distancing measures.[17]

In April 2021, Russell Stover entered an agreement with Topeka Correctional Facility to form a work release program, hiring 150 inmates to work at their Iola and Abilene facilities in Kansas. This happened as part of a general response from US employers to a perceived labor shortage related to the pandemic.[18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Smith, Aaron (July 14, 2014). "Lindt & Sprüngli to take over Russell Stover". CNNMoney.
  2. ^ Bray, Chad. "Swiss Chocolate Maker Lindt Will Buy Russell Stover Candies". DealBook. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  3. ^ Davis, Mark (March 10, 2015). "Lindt & Sprüngli paid $1.6 billion for Russell Stover". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved August 21, 2021.
  4. ^ "History of Russell Stover Candies Inc. – FundingUniverse". www.fundinguniverse.com. Retrieved August 21, 2021.
  5. ^ a b "Russell Stover Chocolates Timeline - Russell Stover Chocolates". www.russellstover.com. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  6. ^ Freudenheim, Milt (1996-02-13). "Louis Ward, 76, Manufacturer Built Fortune in Candy Business". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-09-25.
  7. ^ "Brands That I Love". 1 March 2003. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  8. ^ Bray, Chad. "Swiss Chocolate Maker Lindt Will Buy Russell Stover Candies". DealBook. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  9. ^ a b Pacyniak, Bernie. "Russell Stover: How the chocolate company is evolving since being bought by Lindt". www.candyindustry.com. Retrieved 2021-09-25.
  10. ^ Shoup, Mary Ellen. "Russell Stover corrects 'brand communication problem', brings sales growth to sugar-free chocolate product". foodnavigator-usa.com. Retrieved 2021-09-25.
  11. ^ Mohan, Anne Marie (2019-03-24). "Russell Stover redesign reverses three-year sales decline". Packaging World. Retrieved 2021-09-25.
  12. ^ Lindell, Crystal. "2020 State of the Confectionery Industry: Better-for-you, sugar-free entice consumers amid COVID-19". www.candyindustry.com. Retrieved 2021-09-25.
  13. ^ Collins, Leslie (January 14, 2020). "Russell Stover's new box of chocolates: expansion, hiring, job cuts". www.bizjournals.com. American City Business Journals. Retrieved 2021-08-22.
  14. ^ "Chocolatiers slash prices as shoppers in coronavirus lockdown buy toilet paper instead of Easter bunnies". Fortune. Retrieved 2021-09-25.
  15. ^ Svaldi, Aldo (2020-06-03). "Russell Stover will close its Montrose plant ahead of schedule due to COVID-19". The Denver Post. Retrieved 2021-09-25.
  16. ^ Tubbs, Justin. "Sale finalized on former Russell Stover candy shop; future of property in the air". Montrose Daily Press. Retrieved 2021-09-25.
  17. ^ Motter, Sarah. "KANSASWORKS Job Fair connects Kansans with jobs despite COVID-19 pandemic". Retrieved 2021-10-21.
  18. ^ Sainato, Michael (2021-07-20). "Companies claim there's a labor shortage. Their solution? Prisoners". The Guardian.com. Retrieved 2021-09-25.

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