Kaan's feeding growing market

From a modest 1960s Brockville general grocery shop to one of the largest independent food distributors in the South Island, Dunedin-headquartered Kaan's Catering Supplies is embarking on a more than $10 million expansion programme.

Matriarch Coral Kaan (82) said it all started with ''very, very long hours'' in the 1960s, making sandwiches and burgers for truckies at 6am and working through to the evening, the children helping make up and fold the pay packets at the week's end for staff.

''There's been incredible changes over the decades, from the types of goods to [health and safety] rules and regulations,'' she said yesterday.

Still a family affair; parents Coral and John Kaan and family (from left) granddaughter Katelin, grandson Thomas, daughter Glenda and sons Lindsay and Geoff. Photo: Christine O'Connor
Still a family affair; parents Coral and John Kaan and family (from left) granddaughter Katelin, grandson Thomas, daughter Glenda and sons Lindsay and Geoff. Photo: Christine O'Connor

The business is set expand its footprint three-fold from 4000sqm to 12,000sqm, increase its workforce 17% to about 200, while its vehicle fleet of 95 delivers 4000 different product lines to customers, almost every day.

 

The company has started redeveloping and land banking a series of warehouses, on each side of Kitchener St in Dunedin, which will enlarge its footprint to 8000sqm of covered space, 80% of which will be refrigerated areas.

Lindsay Kaan (53) is principal of Kaan's Catering Supplies, but said it remained ''very much'' a family affair, involving his parents, siblings and their children.

''Why the expansion? We've simply outgrown where we are after 25 years,'' Mr Kaan said.

He estimated $10million would be spent on the redevelopment, plus more on the other land-banked Kitchener St warehouses in the future.

He said the expansion was to ''future-proof'' the business, with expectations the current annual $80million turnover would grow to $100million within the next 18 to 24 months, he said.

Despite appearances from the busy Andersons Bay roadside, demolition and redevelopment has begun in earnest at the back of the property.

''We're really hoping to be in here by Christmas time,'' Mr Kaan said of the peak trading period for the company.

Mr Kaan's parents, John and Coral, started off in a Brockville general grocery shop they built in the 1960s before operating a fish and chip shop in Sawyers Bay.

Kaan's Catering Services started in 1991.

The company now has 170 staff, and services everywhere ''south of Christchurch'', across to Mt Cook, Queenstown and Te Anau, Central Otago and down to Invercargill, Mr Kaan said.

''We've got quite a few sub-branches around.''

His parents are still involved in the business, ''a few hours a week'', as are his brother Geoff, sister Glenda and nephew and niece Thomas and Katelin.

Included in the 1.6ha land package, is an area across the road in Kitchener St, where there is another 4000sqm of warehouse space in several buildings, ''for development later,'' and Mr Kaan will be retaining the Willis St site, as well.

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