Australian Wholefoods joint venture with Patties Foods

Australian Wholefoods is positioned for growth as we enter into a new joint venture with national foods manufacturer Patties Foods. The joint venture has Australian Wholefoods continue its world class production in Salisbury South, whilst Patties provides capital to invest in acquisitions, local manufacturing, sales and distribution. This investment has the potential to grow the workforce by up to 60 people and expand the South Australian footprint.

Australian Wholefoods plans to create new jobs in SA under its joint venture with Patties Foods

Belinda Willis, The Advertiser
June 20, 2017 12:00am

AUSTRALIAN Wholefoods is planning to expand its footprint and employ up to 60 new staff at its Salisbury plant as its new joint venture with national food manufacturer Patties Foods takes hold.

Reports of Pacific Equity Partners (PEP), which bought out Patties Food in 2016, “swallowing up” the company were rejected by Australian Wholefoods directors Raymond Khabbaz and Michael Demetriou who still own 50 percent of the company.

Mr Khabbaz is adamant that the joint venture was about attracting an important cash injection to allow the South Australian company that already employed 168 staff and produces quiche, ready meals like lasagne and pasta, and Shepherd’s pie, to prowl for new brands and expansion opportunities.

“Part of our view of the world is that we went to market to say that we, as a company in SA for the past six to seven years, wanted to grow more and to do that we needed investment,” Mr Khabbaz said.

“This will take us to world class in food processing and give us capacity for growth.”

The agreement with Patties, makers of Four ‘n Twenty and Nanna’s pies, already had the Australian Wholefoods directors now looking at several new business opportunities in South Australia and interstate.

The two Adelaide entrepreneurs previously started Copperpot in 1983, which grew to become to a leading national brand for dips and snack products with annual sales of $45-55 million before being bought out by Goodman Fielder in 2007.

They bought Australian Wholefoods in November, 2010, eventually returning to the former Copperpot facilities in Salisbury and spending $25 million on an upgrade.

Mr Khabbaz said they now wanted to invest in new opportunities to expand the business with only about half the site currently being used, adding that the ready to eat market in Australia was project to grow to being worth up to $1.3 billion in the next few years.

“Ready made meals is probably one of the most emerging categories in Australia at the moment, the convenience, snack, ready to eat for professionals who are time poor,” he said.

“We’ve grown four to five fold in the past four to five years from our humble beginnings, we anticipate we can do that again in the next one to two years.”

He believed it would benefit employment in the northern suburbs along with the businesses in South Australia where Australian Wholefoods sourced almost all of the ingredients for its meals.

The joint venture was designed to have Australian Wholefoods continue production while Patties offered capital to invest in acquisitions, local manufacturing, sales and distribution to add scale to the business.

Patties chief executive Paul Hitchcock said the partnering was a good fit for the Patties brand and “we’re excited to support them in growing their brands and their business”.

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