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Whanganui’s food production sector gets a boost from recent sale

The sale of the land and buildings that formerly-housed the Mars Petcare New Zealand facility in Whanganui closes one chapter of the region’s manufacturing story but opens another.

Leading New Zealand smallgoods producer Farmland Foods Limited, recently purchased the manufacturing facility in Bryce Street, Castlecliff, and will soon enter a commissioning phase as it transitions the property to its food production requirements.

After a robust marketing campaign that generated strong local, national and international enquiry and interest, the land, buildings, plant and extensive chattels inventory were sold for an undisclosed sum in a transaction facilitated by Bayleys.

John Bartley, managing director Bayleys Whanganui, said the two-stage sales’ campaign drew on Bayleys’ interconnected nationwide team to bring the deal together and the Farmlands Foods operation will bring tangible benefit to the regional economy.

“Understandably, when Mars Petcare announced its closure after 27 years of manufacturing in Whanganui, there was an element of sadness that the region was losing a valued business entity and committed employer,” he said.

“However, the announcement that Farmlands Foods would expand their proven operation into Whanganui has been welcomed and its business track record across three generations is very positive for the wider regional economy.

“We were heartened by the amount of interest we received for the property, with the initial expressions of interest stage of the marketing coaxing out multiple parties – many of whom went on to submit offers via the deadline private treaty process that followed.”

While not being drawn on the eventual sales’ price, Bartley says it exceeded expectations and is unrivalled in terms of transactional value for an industrial property in the region in recent years.

The property is part of the well-established Castlecliff industrial precinct which is home to other food-related operations such as meat processing. It is located 6km from the city centre and 150m from Whanganui Port.

The freehold 1.55ha site is zoned manufacturing/industrial 7A and supports 5,490sqm of buildings including modernised offices, comprehensive staff amenities, extensive manufacturing, packaging and storage facilities, workshop and plant rooms, with on-site parking for more than 100 vehicles.

“Looking ahead, there is scope to extend the building footprint within site boundaries and this appealed to a broad range of prospective buyers including developers, owner-occupiers, add-value investors, and passive investors,” said Bartley.

Farmland Foods Limited began as a family butcher shop in 1964 and is a 100% locally-owned family business that currently operates from a production facility based on the Davis family’s rural property near Bulls.

The directors and their families have all resided in Whanganui since 1994 and are committed to the region and to supporting local manufacturing.

Increased demand for Farmland products has resulted in the company experiencing steady growth for several years.

Managing director, Eddie Davis, says the purchase of the Mars facility is a natural progression for Farmlands.

“The addition of another site will add the capacity we need for growth and will future proof our current business and operations supplying smallgoods, bacon and ham to supermarkets nationwide”.

Farmland Foods currently employs around 120 staff and will look to expand into the Bryce Street facility over the coming months.

“We are committed to growing this number as we continue to build our business in Whanganui,” Davis said.

“In addition to future employment opportunities, the site’s conversion to a food manufacturing facility will support Whanganui businesses through the plant commissioning process and we are proud to be in a position to continue strengthening employment and growth in the region”.

Property address: 49 Bryce Street, Castlecliff, Whanganui

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