Years ago I worked as a junior marketing bloke for Allied Mills, which became Meadow Lea Foods, then Goodman Fielder. I returned 25 years later as a contractor running a specialist unit of the ingredients division in a pre-sale “polish-up” as they struggled to manage their assets and generate a sustainable profit.
Finally, it seems GF, the last really significant Australian FMCG business has dropped the last hospital pass, and is being sold overseas.
What a shambles, a litany of strategic bumbles and crap management over a long period. It is also a report card on the whole Australian food processing industry. The sale reflects the result of the challenges that have finally led to the demise of large, Australian owned enterprises in the food industry. One day a Phd student will document all this, and perhaps the mistakes many of us saw evolving over a long period will be articulated in the hope we learn something.
I have written about this progressive failure to retain domestic ownership a fair bit over the last few years, the fiddling, the missteps, stupid stuff by both management and regulators, and now just feel sad rather than angry as I have been before.
The undoubted opportunities for Australia to become the food basket of Asia will not go away, we will still get some of the benefits, but just those bits that multinational conglomerates give us, almost none will be because we can make the decisions that have a long term impact on the shape and nature of the enterprises. Those decisions will all be made overseas in someone else’s best interests.
Vale Australian value added food processing.
PS. May 28.
It has been announced that, as expected, Peters ice cream has been sold. to UK based R&R icecream, funded by a French private equity group. Despite a checkered ownership history in the last 25 years, Peters is a brand of my (long ago) childhood.
I ran Germantown ANZ for a year as a contractor, and during that time GFW offered shares to employees at $2.00, a reasonable discount on the then market price. Seemed a sensible move when I did the numbers, and several employees (I was not eligible) bought them. Bad move that, as the spiral was just about to gain some of the momentum which led to the later divestment decisions, and final current death throes.
Understand where you are coming from. I was once in finance dept of GFW