Manufacturing to return to NZ: Biscuit firm Arnott’s Group building Auckland factory

Australian biscuit and cracker manufacturer Arnott’s Group’s is set to return some of its production manufacturing to New Zealand from next year.

The maker of Shapes, Tim Tams, 180degrees crackers, Real Stock and other snacks and ingredient staples, has invested in a multi-million-dollar factory currently under construction in the West Auckland suburb of Avondale.

The Avondale factory is set to open in early 2023 and will allow the billion-dollar company headquartered in Sydney to continue to grow its local business.

Arnott’s previously operated a factory in Otahuhu, South Auckland, but took manufacturing offshore some 25 years ago, to Australia – where the group runs six factories spread across Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide.

The group acquired gourmet Kiwi snack firm 180degrees and its production facility last year and will use the West Auckland factory to expand that brand’s product range. Within time, it plans to use the facility to produce other biscuits from other brands within its portfolio.

Arnott’s is Australia’s largest producer of biscuits and second-largest supplier of snack foods, and has been operating in New Zealand for over 100 years.

The company sells more than 40 million packets of biscuits in New Zealand each year.

Mike Cullerne, Arnott’s Group New Zealand lead, said the Avondale factory would be focused on producing the company’s gourmet crackers and sweet biscuits.

“180degrees will be the spearhead and then over time we will look to innovate in [other] premium entertaining [categories]. Premium entertaining is a fast-growing space. We’re not exactly sure what will be coming out [of the facility] over the next couple of years’ time, all we know is we need the capacity and the ability to move as quickly as consumers’ trends of tastes move.

“We have a big Australian manufacturing network that does most brands, and we’ll continue to leverage that network, but this 180degree investment locally in New Zealand is a way for us to drive incremental innovation and products on to shelves and into supermarkets both in New Zealand and Australia, and further abroad in markets like Asia and North America.”

Arnott’s wants to “significantly grow” the 180degrees brand over the next three to five years. Cullerne said investing in a local production facility would allow the brand to expand.

180degrees co-founder Nigel Cranston said the opening of the Avondale factory would help to fulfil the brand’s ambitions: “[It] will enable us to get our products in more homes across New Zealand, Australia and elsewhere.”

Arnott’s Group has experienced “healthy growth” across the New Zealand business in the past couple of years through the Covid-19 pandemic. Cullerne said operating had not been without its challenges, but overall the crisis had been favourable for the company.

“It’s been a bumpy two years – there have been a lot of supply chain challenges in terms of getting product, and ingredients, into New Zealand … but consumers have spent a bit more time at home and so therefore we’ve seen a lot more people enjoying a packet of biscuits, or soups or stocks and that natural growth come through.”

Cullerne said the opening of the Avondale factory next year was expected to add “dozens more jobs” for the group, which will recruit for a wide range of roles including engineers and production and research and development staff.

Arnott’s employs 175 staff in New Zealand currently, including 35 based in its Newmarket head office, and expects that to grow by another 30 people.

Before it closed its Otahuhu factory in 1997, Arnott’s manufactured Shapes, Farmbake, Cruskits and Tim Tams and some unique NZ-only products including Iced Animals and the Cream Cracker in New Zealand.

Cullerne said the group’s strategy was to grow its premium biscuit category and it would continue to look at opportunities to acquire other brands for its portfolio.

“We’re excited to make the investment and excited to get going [in New Zealand]. We know that opening a manufacturing facility is exciting, but we have a number of growth opportunities on our doorstep right now.”

The acquisition of 180degrees, founded in 2001 by Kiwis Jill Seton, Frank Lawton and Nigel Cranston, was Arnott’s first local brand takeover in more than 20 years.

Arnott’s was set up 157 years ago in 1865 in Newcastle, New South Wales. It is owned by American private equity giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.

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