Gay­pak yields to ris­ing debt

Gayn­dah business forced to pri­va­tise after dwin­dling mem­bers

Central and North Burnett Times - - FRONT PAGE - Shirley Way shirley.way@cnbtimes.com.au

GAYN­DAH Pack­ers Co-oper­a­tive As­so­ci­a­tion (Gay­pak) was forced to pri­va­tise this week due to mount­ing debt and dwin­dling grower mem­bers.

The new company, led by three for­mer co-oper­a­tive mem­bers, was back in op­er­a­tion yes­ter­day pack­ing le­mons and limes, with a “more ef­fi­cient and more stream­lined” vi­sion.

“We are open for business,” new co-owner and for­mer Gay­pak boss Ian Shep­herd said.

DWIN­DLING mem­ber­ship in the Gayn­dah Pack­ers Co-oper­a­tive (Gay­pak) has forced the business to pri­va­tise this week.

The wind-up of the 41-year-old co-oper­a­tive came after the num­ber of grower mem­bers de­clined from 50 in 2011 to “about seven” this year, amid dis­sat­is­fac­tion with its “tra­di­tional business struc­ture”.

For­mer Gay­pak chair­man and new co-owner Ian Shep­herd de­scribed the move as a fresh start with new op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“The new own­ers are work­ing closely with their staff to de­ter­mine their new roles in a smaller, leaner business struc­ture,” Mr Shep­herd said.

“They (own­ers) an­tic­i­pate a sim­i­lar num­ber of sea­sonal staff as past years, and are ex­pect­ing 2015 to be a larger crop this year.”

For­mer co-oper­a­tive em­ploy­ees were in­ter­viewed for po­si­tions on Tues­day, and the pack­ing shed was in op­er­a­tion again yes­ter­day.

The new company, Gayn­dah Pack­ers Ltd, had in­her­ited a vol­ume of cit­rus sim­i­lar to 15 years ago, and pack­ing con­tracts with grow­ers would be pur­sued “with­out the past re­stric­tions of co-oper­a­tive mem­ber­ship struc­ture and rules”.

Mr Shep­herd said past mem­bers had left to cut costs after sev­eral tough sea­sons, leav­ing a grow­ing debt for con­tin­u­ing mem­bers – a debt that would be im­pos­si­ble to sus­tain.

“In or­der to re­fi­nance the business, struc­ture needed to change and pri­vate own­er­ship was the only op­tion avail­able,” he said.

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