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Levine Leichtman Capital Partners Acquires Kilwins, A Leading Franchisor Brand of Chocolate, Ice Cream and Confectionary Products

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Builds on LLCP’s robust experience across food-related franchise brands

LOS ANGELES, February 23, 2023-- Levine Leichtman Capital Partners (“LLCP”), a Los Angeles-based private equity firm, announced today that it has acquired Kilwin’s Quality Confections, Inc. and Kilwins Chocolates Franchise, Inc. (together, “Kilwins” or the “Company”), a leading franchisor, retailer, manufacturer and distributor of premium quality chocolate, ice cream and confectionary products. Robin and Don McCarty, the majority owners of Kilwins since 1995, will retain an ownership interest. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Founded in 1947 and headquartered in Petoskey, Michigan, Kilwins has a proud heritage of combining quality-first products with superior customer service to create an industry-leading chocolate, ice cream and confectionary experience. Kilwins strives to engage customers with its wide variety of premium, handcrafted products, delivered in a novel store format that utilizes traditional and time-honored production methods. The Company currently operates over 150 locations across 25 states, the majority of which are franchised operations.

Andrew Schwartz, a Partner at LLCP, said, “Kilwins has an incredible brand proposition, a compelling product portfolio, and a loyal customer base. We are strong believers in the long-term potential of Kilwins and are excited to work closely with the Company’s management team to accelerate growth through continued franchise expansion, new channel opportunities, and additional product innovation.”

Don McCarty said, “It has been a joy for Robin and I to have been a part of this Company for the last 43 years. Our caring, loyal franchisees are the basis of our long-term success, and the Kilwins team has made incredible products, built an exceptional platform and has successfully created meaningful and lasting experiences for our customers. As we look to the Company’s future, we are confident that LLCP has the resources and franchise experience to lead Kilwins in its next phase of growth, and will provide dynamic, thoughtful, and strong customer focus and leadership.”

LLCP is a leading private equity investor in the Franchising & Multi-unit sector, having invested in more than 25 brands through its history. These include food-related businesses such as Tropical Smoothie Cafe, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Mountain Mike’s Pizza, Wetzel’s Pretzels, and Global Franchise Group.

Kilwins is the third platform investment of LLCP Lower Middle Market Fund III, L.P.

Honigman LLP and Greenberg Traurig, LLP served as legal counsel to LLCP on the transaction.

Kilwins was advised by BDO Capital Advisors, LLC and Varnum LLP.

About Levine Leichtman Capital Partners

Levine Leichtman Capital Partners, LLC is a middle-market private equity firm with a 39-year track record of investing across various targeted sectors, including Franchising & Multi-unit, Business Services, Education & Training and Engineered Products & Manufacturing. LLCP utilizes a differentiated Structured Private Equity investment strategy, combining debt and equity capital investments in portfolio companies. LLCP believes that by investing in a combination of debt and equity securities, it offers management teams growth capital in a highly tailored, flexible investment structure that can be a more attractive alternative than traditional private equity.

LLCP’s global team of dedicated investment professionals is led by nine partners who have worked at LLCP for an average of 19 years. Since inception, LLCP has managed approximately $13.2 billion of institutional capital across 15 investment funds and has invested in over 100 portfolio companies. LLCP currently manages $8.6 billion of assets and has offices in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Charlotte, Miami, London, Stockholm, The Hague and Frankfurt.

Mark Semer/Sara Widmann
Gasthalter & Co.
(212) 257 4170

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