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Bringing Hansells back home

It’s a case of back to the future for iconic Wairarapa brand Hansells NZ, with the long-sought sale of the business to investors in the region finally coming to fruition.

The deal will prime the business for growth by opening up potentially lucrative Asian export markets that favour products able to demonstrate long-term success in their home territory, as well as create more jobs for locals.

Established in Masterton in 1934 by entrepreneur LB Maunsell and a chemist by the name of Hansen, Hansells NZ became famous in the decades that followed for manufacturing a range of pre-mixed and pre-prepared food and beverage products that included Jungle Juice and Vitafresh.

In 2008 the company was bought by an Auckland based company [although production continued at the original site off SH2 on the northern outskirts of Masterton] before being on-sold to Walter & Wild in 2018.

In the interim, local accountant Alan Stewart prevented the Masterton operation from being shuttered by its then-owners by pulling together a group of investors to buy and run it as a contract manufacturer for the product lines of several companies, including Hansells NZ.

As reported by the Times-Age in March, Stewart [now Hansells Masterton’s executive chairman and shareholder] has recently been seeking to rescue the company again by buying back its brand, stock, sales and manufacturing, and plant from the latest owners, whom he described as “motivated”.

Alan Stewart, chairman Hansells Masterton, at the Hansells factory. PHOTO/FILE

Yesterday, Walter and Wild officially announced that Stewart had finally succeeded in getting the sale over the line, with the company’s chief operating officer Isi Tupou noting, “It feels right to see this iconic brand return to its regional and historical roots.”

For his part, Stewart is jubilant that “the long hard slog” involved in getting the deal done is over, and planning for a more secure future can begin.

“This is a great result for the Masterton community and the wider Wairarapa district,” he said.

“Historically, Hansells has been a much-treasured part of the Masterton community and we are one of the major employers here.”

As well as providing additional export opportunities, the sale means staff numbers will quickly increase by around 14 per cent, from the current 70 to over 80.

With a new production manager just signed up, the freshly energised business will begin ramping up production of products it now owns outright again in a staged approach over the next two months.

1 COMMENT

  1. I worked a short time at Hansells 60 yrs ago.
    My wife there for 33 yrs then retired.
    This iconic company has done a huge amount for the community.. Well done Alan Stewart.
    Drinks all around.

Comments are closed.

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