Coca-Cola Amatil is selling its Victorian-based Shepparton Preserving Company (SPC) fruit and vegetable processing business to the Shepparton Partners Collective for $40 million.
Shepparton Partners Collective, a joint venture between Perma Funds Management and The Eights, said it would focus on reducing the complexity at SPC and product innovation. SPC employs 500 permanent staff and a CCA spokesperson said no jobs at the cannery or supply chain were expected to be impacted.
Perma Funds Management’s Hussein Rifai said he did not see SPC as “just an Australian company”.
“We believe there is enormous opportunity to grow this unique 100-year-old brand further domestically and internationally,” he said.
Hussein reiterated that all 500 permanent staff would be offered ongoing employment and said part of a new strategy would be to “empower the staff” with knowledge and skills.
“The way we see this business is a growth opportunity, it’s not a slice-and-dice opportunity,” he said.
Coca-Cola Amatil group managing director Alison Watkins said there had been strong domestic and international interest in SPC because of the brand’s “iconic status” and the Victorian government’s $22 million contribution to support the fruit processor between 2014 and 2018.
“This outcome is good news for SPC and good news for the Goulburn Valley,” Alison said.
SPC managing director Reg Weine welcomed the sale, which he said would allow the company to continue to expand its operations.
“In recent years we’ve grown our market share in tomatoes and we recently launched Australia’s first organic canned tomatoes,” he said.
“We’re proud of those achievements and we’re confident we can do more.”
Mr Weine said the casual workforce fluctuated throughout the year, bringing up to 700 casual or seasonal workers onboard during peak seasons — it is unclear whether these jobs will be impacted.
Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union food division secretary Jason Hefford said many worried SPC employees had contacted the union.
“The model of food processing has changed and there’s a lot less workers these days … There will be people there that won’t be employed by SPC in the future and we’ve got to have that honest and open dialogue.”