Sweet deal on offer for Te Rapa land and buildings

02:09, Mar 26 2014
Donovans chocolate
NICHE FIRM: The specialty chocolate company started 13 years ago in Hamilton.

A sweet industrial property is up for grabs in Te Rapa.

Donovans Chocolates founders Patrick and Gayle Donovan - who are now retired and live in Whangamata - have decided to sell the building and land at 137 Maui St.

They sold the business operation in 2011 but kept the land and leased it to the business owners, Prolife Foods.

Prolife is the Hamilton company behind the Alison's Pantry, Mother Earth and Value Pack brands.

Brothers Mark and Paul Donovan will continued to be involved in the company after the sale. Mark Donovan is now the specialty and export sales manager for Prolife. Paul Donovan now works for a company in Melbourne.

Donovans has been operating at the Maui street site since moving there in 2001.


The factory produces a range of fudges and chocolates that are sold in supermarkets around the country and overseas.

Export partners include Coles and Woolworths in Australia, as well as Asian supermarket heavyweights Cold Storage and Dairy Farm.

Flavours vary from the regular milk chocolate to interesting options like feijoa or chilli and lime.

As well as a production and distribution facility, the site includes the Donovans Chocolates cafe - which serves breakfast and lunch from Monday to Saturday - and a gift shop.

Mark Donovan said weekly shifts in the factory had doubled, and production was up significantly since Prolife took over the business.

"Prolife has been really instrumental in growing the brand."

Prolife's headquarters are located just down the road at 100 Maui St.

Lodge Real Estate agent Dean Abraham said he had made Prolife aware the land was for sale, but he was unsure if the company would pursue a purchase.

"I would say there's a chance they're interested in it," he said. "It's early days."

Prolife CEO Andrew Smith said the company respected the right of the building owners to sell the property, and Prolife planned to be involved in the auction process.

He said Prolife leased a number of properties in the area, and may decide to include the Donovans site in the company's property profile, but had not made that decision yet.

"It depends on what space we need and the price."

Prolife is in the middle of a six-year lease on the land, and has a six-year right of renewal option in March 2017.

Net rent for the property is $168,000 per year.

"I understand the facility is working well for [Prolife]," said Abraham.

The modern industrial building was constructed in 2000 and had an extension in 2007, now occupying a total of 1720 square metres.

The land is a total 3100sqm, with 32 car parks.

The property will be auctioned on Wednesday April 23.