Aussie buy doubles sweet-maker's capacity

By Sally Rae

Rainbow Confectionery's products include jellybeans. Photo / Supplied
Rainbow Confectionery's products include jellybeans. Photo / Supplied

Rainbow Confectionery has doubled its capacity with the acquisition of an Australian confectionery plant.

Combined production from new buy Metford Confectionery, in Newcastle, and Rainbow's Oamaru factory makes the company the largest privately owned confectionery manufacturer in Australasia.

Managing director Ray White said Rainbow was working hard to get the new plant up and running and planned to re-employ redundant Metford staff. Staff numbers were expected to be about 45.

Last year, the Maitland Mercury newspaper said the Metford plant was closing, putting 10 people out of jobs. Rising costs of raw materials, wages and energy were blamed.

White said the plant made many of the same lollies as Rainbow but also came with equipment to manufacture chocolate soft-centred eggs and filled chocolates.

"The new plant adds huge scope to Rainbow's business in both New Zealand and Australia.

"We already export from New Zealand to Australia but soon we will be driving transtasman trade in both directions," he said.

"It's exciting to be able to apply the industry knowledge and production expertise we've accumulated over the past decade to this new plant and make it profitable again."

In 1995, long-standing Oamaru-based confectionery business Regina was sold to Nestle NZ, which closed the factory in 2001 and moved production to Australia.

There had been a long history of confectionery-making in the town, since Jack McNamara moved Regina Confections from Dunedin in 1949.

Private investors Patrick Betty, Rod Thornton and White then bought the assets, re-employed many of the redundant staff and started making confectionery again, including jellies, pineapple chunks and party mix. The trio added new technology and invested in the ability to produce jellybeans - the only manufacturer in New Zealand to do so.

It now had up to 100 staff at the Oamaru factory at the height of the Easter season.

- Otago Daily Times

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