SPC: Things do go better with Coke

By Kyabram Free Press

COCA-COLA Amatil has confirmed the 39 permanent full and part time employees at the Kyabram-Ardmona SPC factory will keep their jobs after SPC, including the Ky factory, is sold for $40 million to the Shepparton Partners Collective.

The iconic brand is expected to change hands by the end of June.

A joint venture between Sydney-based investment firms Perma Funds Management and The Eights, Shepparton Partners Collective was assembled purely to acquire the fruit canning business for $40million.

Perma’s managing director, Mr Hussein Rifai, confirmed that all permanent staff at SPC would be offered ongoing employment.

"We are delighted to have acquired SPC, one of Australia’s most iconic businesses," Mr Rifai said in an ASX statement.

"We believe there is enormous opportunity to grow this unique 100-year-old brand further domestically and internationally.”

The new owners said they are well aware of the special significance the iconic business has to Shepparton and surrounding towns.

And although their Shepparton connections are only in name, Perma Funds Management director Hussein Rifai said they were focused on helping the ‘‘quintessential Aussie business’’ thrive.

‘‘Everyone grew up having SPC,’’ Mr Rifai said. ‘‘It’s had some stumbles along the way, but the staff are well trained, the factory is well equipped. (Former owners) Coca Cola have really set that area up.’’

Mr Rifai said it should come as no surprise to see two Sydney firms buy SPC.

‘‘If you were a businessman like me, why wouldn’t you be interested in SPC?’’ Mr Rifai said.

Former owner Coca-Cola Amatil invested more than $250million in SPC after it bought the cannery in 2005.

It is an investment Mr Rifai believes will put them in good stead to return the business to its former glory.

‘‘Businesses are living organisms, sometimes they have bad days. Those are over,’’ he said.

Mr Rifai is one of five partners that will oversee SPC, with SPC managing director Reg Weine remaining at the helm.

With the sale set to be finalised this month, Mr Rifai said he and his team would be spending the next two to three weeks working with staff before developing a strategy and a pathway forward for SPC.

The sale of SPC comes six months after Coca-Cola Amatil listed the company for sale and four months since the value of SPC was written down from $124million to $0 in February.

If the business is performing well in four years’ time, Coca-Cola Amatil will receive an additional $15million from the sale.