Hansells brand set to return to its roots in the Wairarapa

Hansells brand set to return to its roots in the Wairarapa

The iconic Hansells brand is heading back to the Wairarapa, with the sale of the business to Hansells Masterton. Walter & Wild bought the powdered yoghurts and desserts business and a range of food service products in 2018.

The sale of this business and its manufacturing marks a return to its roots in the rural town of Masterton in the Wairarapa.

Walter & Wild Chief Operating Officer Isi Tupou says the sale was a result of a strategic review the company undertook across its portfolio of FMCG brands.

“This led us to the conclusion that the Hansells branded products, which include powdered yoghurts and Chef’s Kitchen desserts, and various products used in food service, are not part of our core focus going forward. Ultimately we found that our competitive advantage lies in other areas. We engaged with Hansells Masterton, with whom we have a positive and long-standing relationship, on a sales process. We are pleased to announce this process has now been completed. It feels right to see this iconic brand return to its regional and historical roots,” said Tupou. The Hansells business was originally sold in 2008 to another company based in Auckland. At this point production continued at the original site on the outskirts of Masterton State Highway 2.

The Hansells brands were then bought by NZ-owned Walter & Wild, a company owned by Harry Hart, son of successful New Zealand businessperson Graeme Hart, at the time the FMCG company was established in 2018.

Hart said the company has been steadily growing its portfolio of NZ manufactured food brands – from the Hubbards enduring range of breakfast cereals to the comforting nostalgia of Aunt Betty’s puddings.

“It’s always been in our DNA to be more than just another FMCG company. We want to continue to nurture and grow these iconic brands that New Zealanders have been reaching for at the supermarket for years.”

Hart went on to say that the longstanding relationship with Hansells Masterton is something the business values deeply. “We are pleased that our strong relationship has continued to grow over the years, and are happy to see the Hansells business head back to its birthplace.”

Hansells Masterton Executive Chairman and shareholder, Alan Stewart, said he has been working for a couple of months to buy back the Hansells business from Walter & Wild.

“This is a great result for the Masterton community and the wider Wairarapa district. Not only is it good news from an employment perspective, with the expected increase to go from around 60 to over 80 workers, it is also an important development regionally as the future of this legacy business is made more secure. Historically, Hansells has been a much-treasured part of the Masterton community and we are one of the major employers here.”

In 2014, Stewart successfully pulled together a group of investors to buy and run the Masterton site as a contract manufacturer for Hansells product lines, and later for other companies. Covid impacts on accessing ingredients and packaging made business challenging, but the deal struck with Walter & Wild gives the business the potential to grow and market the Hansells brand. This includes overseas market opportunities in Australia and Asia, whose markets like to see the successful growth of brands in their home countries.

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