Revere, Mass.-based The New England Confectionery Company, Inc., commonly known as NECCO, announced this month that it has retained New York City-based Sawaya Segalas & Co., LLC, a leading consumer investment banking firm, to identify a strategic partner or explore a possible sale of its business.   

The 160-year-old multiline company manufactures and distributes well-recognized brands such as Sweethearts Conversation Hearts, NECCO Wafers, Clark Bar, Haviland and Mary Jane confections.

During the course of 2010, “NECCO has worked diligently to improve production efficiencies, quality, delivery and cost, and has made significant progress toward each initiative,” the company states.  As a result, service levels for Halloween and Christmas 2010 had greatly improved compared to the same period in 2009. 

Although the company’s board of directors believe that NECCO has the ability to continue operating in its current form, “finding a strategic partner is the appropriate next step to take full advantage of NECCO’s compelling growth and distribution opportunities,” they contend. 

“We are confident that NECCO will be recognized for the value it can bring the right partner,” explains Dave Smith, chief operations officer, NECCO. “ With the right strategic partner, who can leverage distribution to a broader customer base, NECCO presents tremendous growth opportunities in light of the value embodied in its brands and the substantial operational improvements made this year.'   

NECCO expects its business to continue uninterrupted while it explores various opportunities. The company is still in the process of delivering product to customers for the 2010 holiday season and Valentine’s Day 2011 and remains committed to servicing them for Halloween 2011.