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Russell Stover possibly for sale

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Russell Stover Candies may be for sale and the price tag is more than $1 billion.

The Kansas City company is the third largest candy producer in the United States with about 4,500 employees. It was started in 1932 by Russell and Clara Stover.

The busy season between Valentine's Day and Easter brings Marcel Bollier and other confectioners some of the sweetest sales of the year.

"Luxury chocolate is growing more popular. The chocolate that is cultivated from a specific bean or group of beans is always better than something that's mass produced," said Bollier of André's Confiserie Suisse.

More and more consumers are preferring fancy chocolates to Hershey bars and Bollier credits national brands like Kansas City-based Russell Stover for developing the market.

"Anytime you have a chocolate company that does a good job promoting what they do, it helps. The larger the market, the more it allows us to sell," Bollier said.

Now Russell Stover's owners have listed the company for sale.

Dr. Anthony Tocco is an accounting professor at Rockhurst University. He said losing local ownership of the company would disappoint him.

"Kansas City cannot afford to lose a luxury like Russell Stover in our city," Tocco said.

But the candy company said no sale is imminent right now. The announcement could be a way for the company to test the waters or see how much its business is actually worth.

"Russell Stover is exploring a sale as part of a business strategy. Where we are today is the Ward family is and always will be totally committed to Kansas City," said Robbie Vorhaus, a spokesperson for Russell Stover.

Tocco said it's a common practice for private business owners to list their company for sale, especially in a growing industry like luxury chocolate.

"Until they figure out how much someone is willing to pay for them, then they have no idea how much they are worth," he said.

In other words a private business is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get.

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