Nutrano Produce Group has concluded an agreement to buy leading Australian citrus grower-packer-marketers Seven Fields and Abbotsleigh Group, Fruitnet can confirm.
Nutrano, which was only formed in 2015 to acquire the banana business of Oakville Produce (formerly Moraitis Group), is buying most of the properties owned by Seven Fields and Abbotsleigh, equating to combined plantings of around 1,000ha.
Seven Fields-Abbotsleigh has a sizeable production base across Australia encompassing three hubs: four citrus properties (covering a total of 470ha) and a state-of-the-art packhouse for mandarins and oranges in Mildura, Victoria; Abbotsleigh’s citrus and blueberry orchards south of Bundaberg, Queensland (190ha); and mango, lemon and grapefruit plantations in Katherine (340ha) in the Northern Territory.
The founding owners and shareholders in Seven Fields, including Richard Byllaardt and Greg McMahon, have agreed to sell all of their shares in the company, while Abbotsleigh, headed up by Michael McMahon, has also agreed to sell its business, according to a joint company statement.
All of them will continue in their operational roles, however, and the management of the business will remain the same. Byllaardt will continue to serve as managing director of Seven Fields, McMahon general manager of Abbotsleigh while Seven Fields’ independent director Peter Aubort will remain on the board of directors.
In the joint statement, Tony Mahoney, Nutrano’s managing director, said the company was both excited and proud to acquire “such a quality asset” within the fresh produce sector and to “retain an outstanding team along with its senior executives”.
“The Seven Fields Abbotsleigh acquisition is a perfect fit for the next growth stage of Nutrano,” said Mahoney. “The citrus, blueberry and mango categories complement our existing domestic and international businesses. The brands and relationships built and formed by Seven Fields and Abbotsleigh are key to their success, and we will be maintaining these.”
Executive chairman of Seven Fields, Greg McMahon, added. “We have received many approaches over the years from potential buyers, but it was important an acquirer of our business would continue what we have built and use it as a base for continued growth.”
“It was important to us to secure the future of the business and all of our people who made it a success and we felt that Nutrano provided an excellent strategic and cultural fit. We look forward to working with Tony and Nutrano to deliver on our growth projections and the opportunities that present themselves in agriculture.”
While a binding contract has been signed, the partners said there are number of steps to be taken before the transaction is completed. They expect the acquisition to be completed by the end of November.
Nutrano is a relatively young company in Australia’s fresh produce market, although co-founder and managing director Tony Mahoney spent nearly ten years as CEO of Freshmax.
Nutrano announced its arrival on the scene with the purchase of the vertically integrated banana ripening and distribution business of Oakville Produce on 10 February this year, a move which involved taking on 40 permanent staff. The company has since expanded beyond bananas into a number of other categories, established daily export trade into Singapore and developed a retail farm-to-table joint venture business there. Back in Australia, it has also acquired two general market stands in Sydney’s wholesale markets and re-branded existing stands in Brisbane and Melbourne markets.