Swiss chocolate manufacturer Lindt & Sprüngli is sweetening its confectionary portfolio, announcing it has reached a definitive agreement to purchase Russell Stover Candies, Inc.

“This biggest and most important strategic acquisition to date in Lindt & Sprüngli's history is a unique opportunity for us to expand our North American chocolate business and will greatly enhance the group's status in the world's biggest overall chocolate marketplace,” said Ernst Tanner, chairman of the Lindt board of directors and company CEO.

Headquartered in Kansas City, Russell Stover employs about 2,700 people and includes 35 retail outlets. Since acquiring Whitman’s in 1993, the company is one of the largest manufacturers of pralines and seasonal candies in North America with annual sales of about $500 million.

Lindt, whose company also includes Ghirardelli, operates facilities in Europe and the US. The company employs about 9,000 with annual sales around $2.88 billion.