2 May 2014

Maori business buys failed fruit firm

7:52 am on 2 May 2014

A Maori business in Te Tau Ihu has bought a natural dried fruit firm that's gone into receivership.

Paul Morgan.

Paul Morgan. Photo: SUPPLIED

Wakatu Incorporation has purchased Annies in Marlborough for an undisclosed sum.

Annies traded for 26 years, but will now fall under the Incorporation's Kono brand.

The chairman of the new owner, Paul Morgan, said they would take on a reduced workforce. He said staff numbers were cut from about 60 to 20 before Christmas.

Mr Morgan said the Annies products had good domestic and export markets.

He said Annies got into financial trouble when one of its main customers in North America - Trader Joe's - stopped buying its goods due to intervention by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

Under the Kono label, Wakatu grows fruit and exports alcohol and seafood from Te Tau Ihu - the top of the South Island.

Mr Morgan said they now want to increase export sales from 30 to 80 percent. He said his incorporation's business cases were put together with global markets in mind, and they already trade with about 50 countries.

Mr Morgan said a number of their existing customers were suitable to take the dried fruit products, and his team would visit them and make a pitch.

He said the future use of the Annies brand would be reviewed, and the goods could be marketed in New Zealand and overseas under two different labels.