Sara Lee

Sara Lee acquisition to create Trans-Tasman leader of frozen baked goods

New Zealand-based investor group South Island Office (SIO) has agreed to acquire iconic Australian desserts and baked goods brand Sara Lee from McCain Foods in Australia and New Zealand.

The group also recently purchased the fast-growing Original Foods Baking Co and with the acquisition of Sara Lee will see it grow into Australasia’s premier frozen baked goods supplier.

The acquisition creates a strong partnership as both Sara Lee and the Original Foods Baking Co. have a long tradition of supplying indulgent baked goods and desserts. The combined product ranges and distribution channels are highly complementary.

As part of its strategy to grow the Sara Lee business, McCain appointed Mark Mackaness as a dedicated General Manager in 2019 to build standalone business capability, operating independently from McCain and allowing for a seamless transition of the business.

As part of this acquisition, Mackaness has invested in the business and will be an equity partner and Group CEO. Sara Lee’s leadership team will be staying with the business, allowing for continuity for teams, customers, and suppliers.

Mackaness said that beyond the certainty and continuity this arrangement provides for stakeholders, the strategy is designed for growth for the two companies, which he says are highly complementary.

“Original Foods Baking Co. is already branching out to Australia and beyond with its range of brownies, slices, bites and more. At Sara Lee, we have built an iconic Australian bakery brand, and our quality ice cream, cheesecakes, apple pies, Danishes and puddings have been a household favourite in Australia and New Zealand for 50 years.

“This partnership allows both businesses to gain exposure to new channels and markets as we have different strengths in retail and foodservice in Australia and New Zealand.

“Sara Lee marked our 50th birthday in June, and Original Foods Baking Co. celebrated its 30 years in the same month, so it seems we have been aligned in our love of baking for many years. Our teams are a natural fit.

“Since 2013, McCain has invested more than $AUD40 million in Sara Lee’s product innovation and infrastructure to create a successful, well-run business that is prepared for growth and future, so we will look to continue to innovate and maintain our growth journey from day one.

“I am excited and confident about the future of Sara Lee with Original Foods Baking Co. We will continue to run independently, employing locally and offering customers the same quality range. Our businesses complement each other perfectly, and we’ll be looking for opportunities to partner for ongoing growth.”

Mackaness said the Sara Lee plant in Lisarow, New South Wales was built in 1971 beside orchards, where it used to source oranges for the famous Sara Lee Orange cake. Today, Sara Lee still sources 90 per cent of its ingredients locally, while also employing 220 people from the region.

“Similar to Sara Lee, Original Foods Baking Co.’s delicious range is made from quality ingredients, with no additives or preservatives and a whole lot of love. Where possible they use fresh, local ingredients including 100 per cent New Zealand butter, cream, milk, eggs, cream cheese, apple, yoghurt, and freshly grated carrot,” Mackaness said.

“We are excited to see how the longstanding reputation of each company for passion and commitment to quality baking can unite us for even greater success and growth, together.”

Mackaness said that under the terms of the sale, all current Lisarow-based Sara Lee employees will remain with the business, and they can all participate in the next exciting phase of the Sara Lee story.

“Our customers should experience seamless service throughout this acquisition process, as McCain will continue to provide business process and services support to Sara Lee for a period following the sale, allowing us to plan for the future without disruption for customers and suppliers.

“The future is bright for Sara Lee. Uniting two great baking businesses that will work together to grow into Australia and New Zealand’s premier frozen baked goods supplier is genuinely exciting. We will be investing back behind the Sara Lee brand to continue to give Aussie and Kiwi consumers the great classics they love, with a lot of new products to come as well. Importantly, Sara Lee has been very much a sweet part of the Central Coast food manufacturing landscape for 50 years at the Lisarow Bakery, and we look forward to this continuing well into the future.”

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