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Harry Hart builds new food group with Hubbards, Hansells & Gregg's unit

Wednesday 27th June 2018

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Harrison Hart, the son of local billionaire Graeme Hart, is on his way to building a locally owned food empire with the purchases of Hubbard Foods, Hansell Food Group, and the Gregg's sauce unit.

Walter & Wild, formerly HFG Group, bought the entities in three separate deals, bringing 500 brands under one umbrella and immediately building a local food company of heft. Harry Hart is described as the owner of Walter & Wild, which has entity names reserved with the Companies Office, and he's a 33 percent shareholder of HFG Holdings, the ultimate parent of HFG Group, with Graeme Hart holding the other 67 percent.

"The bringing together of Hubbards, Hansells and Gregg’s Sauces under Walter & Wild combines some of New Zealand’s best-known food brands into a food manufacturing powerhouse,” Harry Hart said in a statement. "The breadth of expertise, manufacturing capability combined with an understanding of markets, both here and offshore will drive further growth and innovation. We now have a significant brand portfolio reaching consumers from breakfast to dessert."

Hansells generated $103.7 million of revenue in the March 2017 year, although related part debt contributed to a loss and a tagged audit report, while accounts to the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust, a former 36 percent shareholder. show Hubbards hadn't turned a profit since 2015. The trust wrote down its investment by $5.1 million and fully impaired a $2.3 million loan to the food maker in 2016 and 2017 before selling its stake back to Dick and Diana Hubbard.

The Gregg's sauce assets became available as a required divestment for the Commerce Commission to approve the sale of Cerebos Gregg's to HJ Heinz.

Harry Hart said his immediate focus is integrating the businesses, and once that's done "we will be making the most of the strong potential we see for these brands both in New Zealand and offshore".

Separately, Graeme Hart's packaging empire may shrink, with Bloomberg reporting Rank Group is considering a sale of Graham Packaging after attracting interest from prospective buyers. Rank's Reynolds Group Holdings bought Graham for US$4.5 billion in 2011 as the Kiwi billionaire built one of the world's biggest packaging firms. Last year Reynolds sold the Asian operations of Graham and Closure Systems International for US$99 million.

Graham contributed first-quarter revenue US$537 million and earnings of US$97 million to Reynolds in the first three months of 2018, of the US$2.5 billion of sales and US$392 million of earnings in the period.


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