In an effort to expand into Eastern Europe, Finland-based Raisio Group has acquired the Czech Republic-based Candy Plus for €20.5 million.

Included in the price for Raisio, which operates Big Bear Confectionery in the UK, is a new capital investment of €2.3 million in fruit-licorice capability. Raisio says it will use cash reserves to pay for the deal.

Candy Plus, known for its soft-eating and higher-fruit jellies, licorice and functional confectionery, has strong consumer brands in its home market, the Czech Republic, including: Juicee Gummee, Fundy, Pedro and Cuksy. Branded products account for about 40% of net sales, Raisio says.

Founded in 200, Candy Plus was owned by private investors. It’s two production sites are in the eastern part of the Czech Republic, in Rohatec and Petřvald u Karviné. The company employs more than 400 people, all of whom will continue as Raisio’s employees.

In 2011, the Candy Plus’ net sales totalled €23.3 million. According to information on Raisio’s website, it specializes in plant-based nutrition and is known for its Benecol products, which lower cholesterol. Its key market areas are: Finland, Great Britain, Sweden, Russia, Ukraine, Poland and Estonia. It’s key brands include: Elovena, Honey Monster, Sunnuntai, Nordic and Fox's