KNPC Holdco, manufacturer of nut and trail mix snacks sold under the Kar’s Nuts and Second Nature brands, has acquired Sanders maker Morley Candy Makers for an undisclosed sum.
The acquisition joins brands with deep roots in the Detroit area. Kar’s Nuts was founded in Detroit in 1933 by Sue Kar, who roasted peanuts in her home to sell outside nearby Navin Field, which later became Tiger Stadium. Similarly, Sanders was founded in 1875 when Fred Sanders Schmidt opened his first Sanders candy shop in Detroit.
The combination of Kar’s Nuts and Sanders creates a platform within the snacking industry, offering a range of premium trail mix, nuts and confectionery products across three brands. The merger will provide Sanders with expanded national distribution opportunities and will offer Kar’s Nuts additional production and product innovation capabilities. Sanders will operate as its own division within the combined company, and the workforces of both companies will remain in place.
“As we explored strategic opportunities for Sanders, it was critical to identify a partner who truly understood and valued our brand and our employees,” Sanders CEO Brian Jefferson said. “We are extremely excited about this merger as we feel confident that it will preserve cherished Sanders products, bring a new level of creativity to our offerings that is sure to delight customers, and continue to take care of our employees.” 
Nick Nicolay will serve as CEO of the combined company, which will be headquartered in Madison Heights, Mich. Jefferson will remain in place through the transition with plans to retire once the two companies are fully integrated.
Nicolay told the Detroit Free Press that consumers will find Kar's products for sale inside Sanders' seven metro Detroit retail stores and will see Sanders products in supermarkets, thanks to Kar's distribution channels.
The Detroit Free Press also reported the combined companies are projected pull in $185 million in 2018. Kar's Nuts has reported annual revenues of about $140 million.
This is KNPC’s first acquisition following investment by an affiliate of Palladium Equity Partners, LLC, a middle-market private equity firm with approximately $2.7 billion in assets under management. Palladium and other KNPC’s equity holders made follow-on investments to support the acquisition and the future growth of the combined company.
Sanders is a successful company with a legacy of customer loyalty and quality products. As we consistently evaluate growth opportunities, this merger is ideal for Kar’s Nuts as we expand our reach in the snacking industry,” Nicolay said. “We look forward to the Sanders family joining the Kar’s Nuts family and continuing to offer products that consumers across the country appreciate and enjoy.”