The land, buildings and business making up New Zealand’s biggest commercial wholesale plant and shrub nursery have been placed on the market for sale.
Growing Spectrum is a 9.635 hectare ‘all-in-one’ seedling, nursery and potting operation at Kihikihi near Te Awamutu in Southern Waikato. The business grows more than half-a-million plants for sale annually – supplying virtually all of New Zealand’s garden centres and selected home improvement mega store outlets.
The family owned and operated business was established 40 years by husband and wife horticultural entrepreneurs Peter and Carol Fraser. It now employs 36 full-time staff, with the company’s sales growing consistently over the past three completed financial years – reaching $4.76 million in the 2015/2016 period.
The freehold land, buildings, and Growing Spectrum business are being jointly marketed for sale by Bayleys Auckland and Bayleys Hamilton. Salespeople Paul Dixon and Carolyn Hanson said 95 percent of Growing Spectrum’s stock was sold to retail garden centres and DIY megastores, with the remaining small volume sold directly to landscaping firms and local bodies. Its leafy products are found in some 161 outlets throughout New Zealand.
Mr Dixon said that in addition to the stock grown on-site at Kihikihi, some 60 percent of product was also grown under contract.
“The company and its directors are focused on producing premium quality plants to the New Zealand market, and over the space of 40 years, has achieved industry-wide respect for maintaining this focus,” he said.
The property at 103 Lyon Street is dotted with a multitude of commercial buildings, including:
A five-bedroom 360 square metre owner/manager’s home
Some 217 square metres of offices containing a training facility which doubles as a boardroom, multiple administration offices, a reception area, staffroom, and toilet amenities
A purpose-built propagation facility encompassing 1663 square metres of ‘hot housing’ where cuttings and seedlings are grown by a ream of seven horticultural specialists
A separate 240 square metre potting shed featuring a semi-automated potting line with potting mix hopper.
Growing Spectrum operates its own trucking fleet for transporting the bulk of product grown and planted within the complex throughout the North Island. A transport contractor operates logistics in the South Island.
“With its own delivery fleet, the brand is able to deliver fresh stock within 24 hours of orders being taken,” Mr Dixon said.
He added that over the past 10 years, Growing Spectrum had made a concerted move toward environmental-sustainability – recognising that man-made chemicals sometimes had severe side-effects on the environment.
“As a result, herbicide usage within the Growing Spectrum business is now kept to a minimum – with dedicated ‘weeders’ employed to remove any sign of burgeoning growth before the weed’s seeds were laid,” he said.
“Meanwhile, waste potting product and green waste is removed off site for use on nearby agricultural land.”
Accounts for the nursery operation show the business currently holds some $1.747 million worth of flora stock. In addition, Growing Spectrum has some $740,000 worth of assets – predominantly made up of the vehicle fleet, along with production machinery and equipment. Buildings are not included in this valuation.
Ms Hanson said the company’s commitment to growing standards of professionalism in horticultural retailing was evidenced by the establishment of its own onsite horticultural training centre for educating new inductees to the wider horticultural sector, alongside with upskilling the sales staff of outlets stocking its products.
“Strict quality control procedures are monitored and documented at every stage of the process – beginning in the propagation department where cuttings, seeds and seedlings are initially raised. Dovetailing through the production team which nurtures the small plants through their life stages, and finally the dispatch hub where only premium-grade stock is sent to market,” she said.
Growing Spectrum has won multiple industry awards for its products over the past four decades, including such accolades as:
Nursery and Garden Industry New Zealand Nursery of the Year
Palmers Supplier of the Year
Mitre 10 Supplier of the Year finalist.
Ms Hanson said Growing Spectrum owners Peter and Carol Fraser had identified several market growth opportunities and operation efficiency-improvement potentials in the business, but were at a stage in their commercial lives where they were ready to make those prospects available to any new owners.
“Among the market growth opportunities is the avenue to get more into fruit and vegetable seedling propagation, while from an operational perspective there is the potential for implementing a modern water reticulation and irrigation system – such as drawing water from on-site bores rather than paying for the town supply,” she said.
Irrigation of the extensive planting and nursery plots is delivered from the Te Awamutu town water supply.
“Growing Spectrum is the classic example of a vertically integrated manufacturing operation… growing seedlings, replanting and potting them, and then transporting stock to market. New owners might look at developing the on-line retailing presence to the business,” Ms Hanson said.