Fruit packing tech firm goes for $67m
A Hamilton fruit technology manufacturer has been bought by a Norwegian giant. A $66.9 million acquisition of BBC Technologies, a family-run producer of sorting and packaging machines for small fruits, was announced to the Oslo stock exchange on Tuesday.
The deal with Norway-based TOMRA Foods will allow BBC Technologies to boost its already $34m per year in exports.
BBC Technologies chief executive Geoff Furniss said it was the end of an era for the company, which started in a tin shed in Ohaupo after Furniss’ parents, Greg and Alison, invented a blueberry grader for their farm, Blueberry Country.
The company now exports $34 million per year of machines that sort and pack blueberries, cherries and other small fruits by colour, softness and defect.
It employs 150 people in countries including New Zealand, Chile and the United States.
A software system which tracks fruit from harvest to point of sale, called Freshtracker, has also been acquired by TOMRA.
‘‘There was a drive at ownership levels and within the family to find a better home that’s more aligned with the potential the business has,’’ Furniss said.
The company sought a buyer seven months ago, and received a ‘‘large number of enquiries’’.
‘‘We recognise it’s an end of a era ... but I think it’s exciting.
‘‘We’re a pretty ambitious bunch of people here, we’ve got big ideas and dreams, and it’s nice to find someone we can partner with and chase them down together.
‘‘We’ve already had commercial benefits, with common customers seeing the relationship as being strong and making additional purchases we wouldn’t have otherwise expected. It seen as a really positive sales push.’’
Under the arrangement, BBC Technologies will become a division of TOMRA and Furniss will remain in charge.
There are not expected to be any changes to the company’s operation.
TOMRA Foods chief executive Mike Riley said BBC Technologies was simply ‘‘the best in the business’’.
Norway-based TOMRA, which manufactures sorting and packing machines for food, recycling and mining industries, boasts 95,000 installations in 80 countries and a 2017 revenue of around $1.2 billion.
TOMRA has a track record of purchasing New Zealand horticulture technology companies; it purchased Auckland-based packhouse automation systems manufacturer Compac in 2016.