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Gregg's on block as Suntory ready to sell

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 19/04/2017 Pattrick Smellie

Ownership of two of New Zealand's oldest food brands, Gregg's and Raro, is up for grabs as the Japanese owner of the Cerebos businesses in New Zealand and Australia puts them up for sale.

Suntory Beverage & Food, a Japan-headquartered global soft drinks company, announced Wednesday it would prepare for sale its Australasian food and instant coffee businesses.

It is a process expected to take six-to-nine months, according to a statement from Terry Svenson, chief executive of the Australasian business.

The New Zealand subsidiary, Cerebos-Greggs, turned over $155 million in the year to December 31, 2015, the latest period for which financial statements have been filed with the Companies Office.

It declared a tax-paid profit for that year of $17.5m and spent $22.8m on wages in New Zealand, down from $26.7m a year earlier.

However, Suntory will retain ownership of its fresh coffee business, which in New Zealand is represented by a range of brands including Caffe L'affare, Atomic Roasters, Orb, and Robert Harris.

"The Fresh Coffee business ... will form part of a new business unit focused on capturing a larger share of the rapidly growing global fresh coffee market," said Mr Svenson, who will lead the new business unit as chief executive.

A range of sauces, spices, curry powders, desserts and jellies are manufactured under the Gregg's brand, along with its staple instant coffee, which has been roasted in Dunedin for more than 150 years. The Raro, Bisto and F. Whitlock & Sons brands are also part of the New Zealand food business.

Suntory's "core focus was on the beverage category," said Mr Svenson.

"Cerebos' fresh coffee brands are a strong complement to SBF's existing beverage portfolio globally. SBF remains committed to investing in fresh coffee to capitalise on our market leading positions to grow the business further."

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