A major new force in private label confectionery was created this week when Danish sweets giant Toms bought Parrs, the UK's leading independent manufacturer of gums and jellies. The sweet makers have combined sales of £41m, just short of the £50m turned over by market leader Monkhill, a subsidiary of Cadbury Schweppes. The aim is to increase sales to £100m over the next four years. Toms UK md Neil Kennedy said his firm would be at the forefront of consolidation in the market, and had set aside £50m to fund further acquisitions and investment in manufacturing sites at Blackpool, Liverpool and Poole. "The market is still reasonably fragmented and we are looking at other opportunities in sugar confectionery of a similar size to Parrs." Toms makes own label toffee, marshmallows, humbugs, eclairs and fruit drops for all the major retailers ­ a complementary product range to Parrs, which makes gums, jellies, lollipops and rock. "There is overlap to certain key customers but also lots of cross selling opportunities" said Kennedy. "We can also boost Parrs' export business using our extensive overseas distribution network." Gums and jellies are driving growth in the market, with consumption per capita higher in the UK and Denmark than anywhere else in Europe. {{NEWS }}