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Largest single-site capsicum grower of New Zealand

New Zealand cooperative buys Southern Paprika Limited

Driven by its plan to have a strong North Island hothouse presence, New Zealand growers co-operative Market Gardeners Limited (MG) has finalized the purchase of Warkworth-based greenhouse operation Southern Paprika Limited (SPL). The SPL business is now under full MG ownership and management.

27 hectare
Established in 1998, SPL was formed by Alexander Cropping Limited (ACL), a New Zealand business owned by Hamish and Robyn Alexander and the Levarht Family of Holland. Featuring 27 hectares of modern glasshouses across five developments, housing up to one million capsicum plants, and producing seven million kilos per year, SPL is one of the largest hothouse operations in New Zealand.

MG has acquired the full SPL business and assets, including land, buildings, intellectual property, and a trademark for the SPL brand. Importantly, all 170 employees of SPL will remain in the business, ensuring expertise is retained in the business and have a seamless continuity of operations.

Greater security of supply of capsicums
Speaking about the investment, MG CEO Peter Hendry said the acquisition would further boost the scale of MG and will provide the co-operative with greater security of supply of capsicums and further future opportunities to align supply with demand in other hothouse categories for the growing North Island market.

"As a proud Kiwi co-operative, we're thrilled to welcome another great New Zealand business of the caliber of SPL and all of its employees into the MG Group," says Peter Hendry.

"The purchase of SPL presents the opportunity for MG to expand its footprint in the North Island with the addition of a hothouse operation which offers a wide range of benefits and advantages to our existing grower-suppliers, shareholders, and customers."

Location, people, quality, and scalability
The SPL hothouse operation was chosen due to its location, the caliber of its people, the quality of the facilities, and potential scalability. "The acquisition supports our strategy to secure supply and enhance our presence in hothouse categories and, along with our other grower-suppliers, achieve better overall outcomes, which we believe will ultimately result in greater returns to our shareholders."

"We also see enormous opportunity going forward with the capability of expanding the operation to align with future market demand for other hothouse products," Peter continues. "It's a win for our customers, our current capsicum and hothouse suppliers, our co-operative shareholders, and the local community in Warkworth."

Long-term focus
SPL founder, Hamish Alexander, said he is delighted to hand over the business to a New Zealand company that mirrors their values and has the resources to take the business forward. "It was our goal to find owners like MG, with a culture and approach to business that aligns with ours, particularly around the way they look after their people," says Hamish. "We are thrilled to have owners with the necessary experience and complementary skills to enable a long-term focus for the business as it enters its next phase."

170 staff members
The 86 ha SPL site is located in Warkworth, 60 minutes North of Auckland. The property consists of five glasshouse complexes totaling 27ha, including 26ha at the Warkworth site and the original 1ha structure located at Point Wells. SPL has developed glasshouses that utilize the latest innovations. The business, which employs 170 staff, has also invested significantly in automation, systems, and packhouses, leading to what it believes to be the operation of the most efficient producer of premium capsicums in New Zealand.

Established in 1923, Market Gardeners Limited, trading as MG, is a grower co-operative and leading fresh produce business, servicing the entire market with a full range of fruit and vegetables through a network of nine large temperature-controlled branches, along with two MG Direct branches. MG partners with hundreds of growers (many of which are shareholders), along with retail and food service customers. MG is also involved in a number of complementary businesses, including IP and exporting, along with being the majority shareholder at Premier Fresh Australia, and is the New Zealand partner for large international brands, including Dole and Sunkist. Also involved in farming, MG owns 100% of the large Nelson hothouse and outdoor growing operation, JS Ewers, and it has a 50% stake (owning 100% of the property/assets) in the covered berry fruit business, Kaipaki Berryfruits.

For more information:
Ellery Tappin
Market Gardeners Limited
Tel.: +64 21 226 3005 

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