Turners and Growers confirms Apollo Apple talks as it plans for growth

Alastair Hulbert, CEO of Turners & Growers
Turners & Growers 12-month price history (NZX.com)

 Turners & Growers [NZX: TUR], the fruit marketer controlled by Germany's BayWa Aktiengesellschaft, has confirmed acquisition discussions with Hawke's Bay orchard and packaging company Apollo Apples as it announces its new strategy for growth.

In a statement to the NZX the Auckland-based company confirmed a media report that it was in talks with Apollo, but said "discussions may not ultimately lead to a transaction and, if any agreement is entered into, it is expected to be conditional upon various matters."

Turners & Growers announced its new strategic blueprint after a 12 month consultation period. It said it will strengthen its focus on international trading opportunities, including outside of its key fruits of pipfruit, grapes and kiwifruit.

The company said it continued to recognise the on-going importance of it domestic business, which remained a key component of the new strategy.

Part of the strategy includes continuing to work with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise's Better by Design programme, as well as strengthening its partnership with BayWa to expand opportunities both locally and overseas.

"Having a global focus is critical to explore new markets, new products and new opportunities," Alastair Hulbert, T&G's chief executive, said in a statement. "We see great potential for us to leverage our expertise, our intellectual property and our processes to grow our international business significantly in the coming years."

The blueprint comes after a period of uncertainty for the company. Last year the former chief executive, Geoff Hipkins, quit suddenly amid media reports of a breakdown in working relationships with senior management. Hulbert took over the lead role several months later.

Reporting its first-half profits in August last year, the company forecast it was track to "exceed the profitability of 2012" when it reported a net loss of $15.3 million due to write-downs in the value of its kiwifruit orchards.

The shares, of which BayWa owns about 73 percent, were unchanged at $1.82 and have gained 10 percent in the past 52 weeks.

(BusinessDesk)

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