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Listing close for 'smart' vending machine seller

Friday 27th October 2000

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Vending Technologies, set up by businessmen John Hotchin and Mervyn Doolan, plans to list on the Stock Exchange on Wednesday following a $7.5 million public offer.

The company claims a first in vending machine technology in the ability to monitor sales, stocking and servicing needs remotely via telephone lines.

The "smart" machines offer hot and cold food and beverages.

The company is forecasting sales of $15 million this financial year and $24 million in 2002 after notching up $5.1 million in the March year.

Earnings before interest and tax were $1 million last year and are expected to rise to $4.2 million in 2001 and $5.1 million in 2002.

In March it had about 419 vending machines, mainly in the Auckland area.

Expansion is planned nationwide and into Australia. VTL is planning 1696 machines by March 2001 and 4735 by 2002.

Until recently the company sold its machines to third parties and leased them back. Using the proceeds of the float it now intends to move toward ownership of the machines.

It believes the New Zealand and Australian vending machine markets are underdeveloped. New Zealand has one vending machine for each 300 people while Australia has one for each 150, compared with one-for-50 in the US and one-for-23 in Japan.

Competitors are food and beverage manufacturers, who generally stock their machines only with their own product. VTL stocks product from a wide range of manufacturers.

It is working on ways to upgrade its proprietary technology. It is trialling the use of wireless application protocol-enabled mobile phones for payment for vending machine goods.

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