Bell Tea and Coffee Company chief executive Mark Hamilton
with some of the company's brands. Photo supplied.
New Zealand's oldest tea company, Bell Tea and Coffee
Company, has been sold to Wellington-based investment company
Pencarrow Private Equity by Foodstuffs New Zealand.
The sale was earlier foreshadowed by the operator of the New
World, Pak 'N Save and Four Square grocery chains and came
after a lengthy audition process for the potential owners.
Bell chief executive Mark Hamilton told the Otago Daily Times
the Dunedin operations of the company would continue as
normal after the October 1 possession date. The 10 staff in
Dunedin were told on Thursday of the sale and they would keep
The Dunedin operation specialised in tea bag production. Bell
tea bags and some of the Twinings range were made in Dunedin.
Pencarrow specialises in buying mid-sized businesses with
values of between $20 million and $100 million and a record
of positive and growing earnings.
Mr Hamilton said staff throughout New Zealand welcomed the
news of the change of ownership and some celebrated
yesterday, sharing cakes at morning tea time.
''We are committed to a New Zealand product and are the only
tea maker to do this in New Zealand. Most tea makers import
their tea from places like Sri Lanka and Indonesia - low-wage
Bell brought in the tea from overseas but blended it in New
Zealand. The best thing for tea was to pack it at the last
possible minute before it was sold to consumers, he said.
''Bell has been a household name with a proud history
spanning over a century. The sale of Bell will help position
the business for its next stage of growth and we believe
Pencarrow's acquisition of the business will support this
ACC and the New Zealand Superannuation Fund had investments
with Pencarrow, meaning every taxpayer in New Zealand now had
a stake in the Bell Tea and Coffee Company, Mr Hamilton said.
Pencarrow was focused on fostering growing New Zealand
companies; partnering with owners and management to pursue
''We believe Pencarrow's proven track record of investment
success would benefit Bell Tea and Coffee Company, building
on Bell's strong market position and proud 100-year history
firmly on New Zealand soil''.
Bell saw growth in specialty brands of tea, such as English
Breakfast, Earl Grey and green tea, 11% of the total market.
Herbal infusion was growing and growth was coming at the high
end of the market.
In coffee, growth was from people switching from instant to
cafe-style roasts, he said.
Bell, Twinings, Gravity Coffee, Jed's Coffee, Burton's, NZ
Live, Native Infusions and coffee machinery brands La Cimbali