Seeka acquires Aongatete Coolstores for $25 million

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Seeka has agreed to buy the kiwifruit orcharding, packing and coolstore business and assets of Aongatete Coolstores in the Bay of Plenty for $25 million.

Seeka chief executive Michael Franks said the acquisition was aligned to the company’s growth strategy and builds on Seeka’s kiwifruit foundation.

“Aongatete’s kiwifruit packhouse and coolstore facility processes around 4.5 million trays of Green and Gold fruit, providing Seeka additional market presence in a growth industry,” he said.

“The acquisition complements our existing business with further infrastructure in a great growing location.”

NZX-listed Seeka is the biggest kiwifruit producer in Australasia and a major post-harvest operator. In addition to increasing Seeka’s catchment, the purchase was expected to increase business performance and deliver sustainable EBITDA of between $3.5 million and $4.5 million, the company said.

Aongatete is an integrated kiwifruit orcharding and post-harvest company operating across the Bay of Plenty. The assets acquired are of excellent quality and according to a statement from Seeka, the people and operation are renowned for their excellent performance for growers, grower focus and furthering technology.

Aongatete Coolstoreswas founded in 1983 by Allan Dawson and Roger Stiles, who secured the  site of the old Aongatete Railway Station alongside State Highway 2, Katikati, and bought the land from New Zealand Railways. The company went on to build a coolstore and packhouse and then began to lease and manage orchards.

Seeka plans to retain all permanent staff and will continue to provide services and support to growers who have been supplying fruit to Aongatete.

Michael Franks said the facilities and team had a considerable reputation for efficiency and innovation.

“This season’s harvest is underway with orchards already being picked and it will continue to operate under the existing experienced team,” he said.

“Our focus will be to deliver support to the team as they need it.”

Allan Dawson, who continues to serve as managing director, said growers’ futures would stand in good stead with Seeka.

“Seeka brings its own skills and economies of scale and recognises the Aongatete site will remain a centre of excellence and innovation for the kiwifruit industry,” he said.

Seeka is committed to the local area and sees benefits for both existing and new staff and grower partners.

“Seeka’s significant size and scope brings increased capacity and ability to support the Aongatete site during peak harvest times,” said Franks.

“With Seeka’s geographical spread throughout the Bay of Plenty transport distances can be reduced with fruit processed closer to where it is grown.”

Seeka said another benefit for Aongatete was that its Grower Shares Scheme and Employee Share Scheme will be offered to new associates. The Scheme is an opportunity for growers and staff to benefit from being part of Seeka and share in returns generated by the business.

The purchase was expected to settle in March, and the facilities will be rebranded as Seeka Aongatete.

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