Christopher Adams

The Business Herald’s markets and banking reporter.

Bell Tea stays in NZ with new owner

Pencarrow Private Equity has bought the Bell Tea and Coffee Company from supermarket owner Foodstuffs.
Pencarrow Private Equity has bought the Bell Tea and Coffee Company from supermarket owner Foodstuffs.

A Wellington-based private equity company has acquired the Bell Tea and Coffee Company from supermarket operator Foodstuffs New Zealand for an undisclosed sum.

Bell Tea and Coffee chief executive Mark Hamilton said the sale to Pencarrow Private Equity would help position the company for its next stage of growth.

Its brands include Bell, Twinings, Gravity Coffee, Jed's Coffee, Burton's, NZ Live, Native Infusions and coffee machinery brands La Cimbali and Jura.

"Pencarrow is focused on fostering growing New Zealand companies and partnering with owners and management teams to pursue those companies' growth strategies," Hamilton said. "We believe Pencarrow's proven track record of investment success will benefit Bell Tea and Coffee Company building on Bell's strong market position and proud 100 year history firmly on New Zealand soil."

In March Hamilton said Bell's annual revenue was just over $60 million.

He declined to disclose its profit at that time.

Foodstuffs New Zealand chief executive Steve Anderson said the acquisition, which will be effective from October 1, would encourage greater distribution of Bell's brands.

Earlier this year Anderson said Bell's ownership by Foodstuffs sometimes made it difficult to sell Bell's products to its retail competitors.

"We are delighted to be passing this iconic New Zealand business on to a New Zealand owned company and look forward to watching the business grow under the new ownership and within our stores," he said.

Bell Tea was founded by Norman Harper Bell in Dunedin in 1898.

Foodstuffs acquired the Bell Tea Company in 1962 and ran as a standalone company.

It became the Bell Tea and Coffee Company following its 2006 acquisition of Burton Hollis Coffee.

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