Wellington old boys team takes majority stake in Shott

By Pattrick Smellie

Dec 9 (BusinessDesk) - A consortium of Wellington business brahmans, including former top executives at Brierley Investments, has taken a majority share in fast-growing syrups maker Shott Beverages, with the intention of expanding its production and export sales.

The investing group, Beverage Holdings Ltd, is led by former Brierley executive Andrew Meehan and comprises the same team as bought the pet food brand, Masterpet, in 2002 and onsold it a year ago to the EBOS group for $105 million, including Masterpet debt.

Among investors is former Brierley chief executive Paul Collins and other Wellington business identities, including Brent Wootton, Bryan Johnson, Graeme Kershaw, and Neville Goldie.

The Shott acquisition is for an undisclosed sum. Meehan told BusinessDesk the company had been experiencing "exponential" year on year growth since establishment in 2007, with sales now in the single digit millions of dollars annually.

Shott featured two years running in the Deloitte Fast 50 awards in 2010 and 2011, which recognises fast-growing new companies, and recorded 394 percent in the second of those two years for its high-end range of syrups now used widely throughout New Zealand in cafes and restaurants, and also available for retail sale.

Exports currently comprise around 10 percent of revenues, with the Korean market a particular area of focus. The company claims presence in more than half of New Zealand's approximately 5000 cafes, and in 90 percent of supermarkets.

The company was established by Richard Plimmer and Tami Louisson, who is married to the former financial journalist Simon Louisson, also a shareholder. Shott was advised in the current transaction by Caniwi Capital, a Wellington private equity firm.

In a statement, Beverage Holdings says it will participate in a "major expansion" of Shott's Lower Hutt business, "using the strengths of New Zealand’s unique food ingredients and flavourings."

It cited Shott’s premium brand Lemon Ginger and Honey syrup as a key product. The company had "all the attributes to become a global brand,” said Meehan, who will chair Shott’s board.

Tami Louisson said the company had turned down other potential investors.

"The point of difference with Beverage Holdings is their long-term perspective and their demonstrated expertise in assisting companies such as ours to grow.”

“Andrew Meehan and Brent Wootton, formerly Chairman and Executive Director respectively of Masterpet Corporation for nine years prior to its recent sale, have a proven track record in managing fast growing businesses and will both join the Board of Shott. “

(BusinessDesk)

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