Hellers' $17m deal tipped to create 50 jobs

Hellers is set to buy Goodman Fielder's meat production business for $17 million, creating about 50 new jobs in the company.

The Christchurch company has agreed to a proposed purchase of Goodman Fielder's meats by March.

Hellers is the largest small goods producer in New Zealand.

It has more than 400 staff producing 500 tonnes of sausages, bacon, ham and delicatessen meats every week.

Founding director Todd Heller would not disclose precise figures, but said the company currently turned over about $200 million of sales a year and expected the expansion to add around 25 per cent to the business.

Heller said if the purchase of Goodman Fielder's meats business went ahead, production of the brands would shift to Hellers' Auckland and Christchurch plants. That could mean the creation of up to 50 jobs, with most needed at the Christchurch site.

Should the sale proceed, Goodman Fielder would close its Hamilton plant, which employs 125.

Goodman Fielder chief executive Chris Delaney described the recommendation to close the facility as "very difficult".

Those losing jobs would be redeployed within Goodman Fielder or offered redundancy, but some may be offered work with Hellers.

Heller said the company would need experienced workers to cope with increased business, and Goodman Fielder employees would be given first option for new jobs opening at Hellers factories.

Brands purchased included Kiwi bacon and ham, Brooks Deli continental meats and bacon, Hutton's luncheon, bacon and ham, Sizzlers pre-cooked smallgoods and Milano cooked continental meats.

Heller said the company was happy to be keeping iconic brands such as Kiwi Bacon and Hutton's locally owned.

"We're a Kiwi company and Kiwi owned. Our whole thing is about New Zealand butchery," he said. "We pride ourselves in being a family-owned New Zealand business and the proposed purchase of these brands would not only keep them in New Zealand, but provide a strong base for our plans to expand," he said.

The transaction is expected to be concluded by the end of March, subject to Goodman Fielder completing its employee consultation process and satisfaction of conditions.

Heller said he did not believe there would be any obstacles or delays to the deal.

He said the company had no intention to discontinue or rebrand any of the brands purchased.

Goodman Fielder is the largest food manufacturer in Australasia, with 2000 employees in New Zealand

The meats business is one of several Goodman Fielder subsidiaries to be sold over the last 18 months, including its NZ flour milling, commercial oil, pizza and biscuit brands.

Delaney said the most recent sales meant Goodman Fielder had "largely completed" its divestment programme and intended to refocus on categories where it had market leading, profitable positions.

"Our strategic commitment is to focus our capital and marketing expenditure on our core categories, and our meats business is not core to Goodman Fielder.

"The proposal to sell also reflects the very difficult trading environment and market conditions which have existed for the meats business for some time," Delaney said.