Pet food factory’s battles continue

The appointment of receivers for Bush’s International Pty Ltd has again put the future of a Dubbo pet food factory in doubt.

BestCare Pet Foods Pty Ltd will continue to operate while a search is undertaken for a new owner.

One of seven companies in the Bush’s group, BestCare in Dubbo is reported to be a “good business” by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Yesterday there was activity at the Purvis Lane factory that has changed hands repeatedly in the past decade.

In 1999 Bonny Pet Food in Dubbo sold its business to Ralston Purina, a subsidy of Purina USA.

The company initially employed about 40 workers and spent an estimated $16 million on a factory to service the Asian market.

But in 2001 Nestle purchased Ralston Purina, which then became known as Nestle-Purina.

Unfortunately for Dubbo, Nestle had a plant in Blayney, leading to the closure of the Dubbo factory in December 2002 with a loss of 100 jobs.

The company’s departure was softened by a $200,000 donation towards the installation of education and training equipment at the then proposed new Police Citizens and Youth Club.

Dubbo MP at the time, the late Tony McGrane, described the gesture as “very noble”.

“It must be a first,” he said.

“I don’t think any other multinational has done this for a community it is leaving.”

In April 2003 pet food manufacturer BestCare Foods confirmed it had purchased the site after a gas explosion two months earlier demolished its Gunnedah plant.

Managing director Mike Goldring had high hopes for the future.

“We anticipate turning over between $12 million and $14 million worth of product annually and hope to increase our staff to about 90 within two to three years,” he told the Daily Liberal.

By December 2004 he was referring the media to receivers Grant Thorton Chartered Accountants of Sydney with its spokesman expressing confidence that it would be sold as a going concern.

He said it had taken the company longer than anticipated to “get up speed”.

Bush’s International is understood to have purchased the business in 2004.

PricewaterhouseCoopers partners Phil Carter and Greg Hall were appointed receivers on Friday.

“We have spoken to employees, key suppliers and customers and are encouraged by the response from all parties,” Mr Carter said.

“We will continue operations as usual while we work towards selling the business as a going concern.

“This is a good business, it has a great workforce, loyal customers and supportive suppliers.”

A spokesperson for the receivers said businesses most affected were in Dubbo, western Sydney and regional Victoria, although the latter had “no staff”.

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