NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

May 15, 2012

Alden Merrell sold, to stay in city

NEWBURYPORT — The Alden Merrell Fine Desserts company has been acquired by Superior Capital Partners LLC, a Detroit-based private equity firm.

Alden Merrell, a well-known local employer located in the industrial-business park, was purchased from the gourmet services division of Heinz North America.

Superior Capital Partners spokesmen say that no cuts in employment are planned and that the Alden Merrell name will continue to appear on cakes and other desserts. Price of purchase was not divulged.

The new company will be known as Dianne's Fine Desserts, which managers say will be "a leading provider of gourmet frozen-thaw desserts."

The new company signifies the merging of two baking operations: Alden Merrell and Dianne's Gourmet Desserts of Le Center, Minn.

The combined operation has about 500 employees, with about half in Newburyport, according to a company spokesmen.

The new company will be headquartered in Newburyport, and its two top executives are minority partners with Superior Capital Partners.

CEO will be Michael Knowles, a former executive of Sara Lee, the large baking company.

President is Daniel Scales, who held management positions at Sara Lee, Pillsbury and Pennant foods.

"We were interested in Alden Merrell because of the quality of its name and products." Knowles said yesterday.

"We thought it may have got a little lost at Heinz because of that company's emphasis on the condiments market."

Knowles, a resident of Chicago, said he will be moving to Newburyport to run the company.

He said, "We intend to grow. My guess is that over a period of time, we will be adding people, not cutting."

Mark Carroll, Superior's managing partner, said, in a statement, "The Dianne's and Alden Merrell brands are known for extremely high quality, and their products are served at some of the nation's most highly regarded national chain restaurants.

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