Breaking News: Primo Group sold to JBS for $1.45billion

BUILDING THE ECONOMY: Upper Hunter Shire mayor Michael Johnsen, Hunter Valley Quality Meats chief executive officer Peter Allen, Primo Smallgoods chief executive officer Paul Lederer and Upper Hunter Shire Council general manager Waid Crockett are looking forward to the expansion of the beef production enterprise. Photo courtesy of Scone Advocate
BUILDING THE ECONOMY: Upper Hunter Shire mayor Michael Johnsen, Hunter Valley Quality Meats chief executive officer Peter Allen, Primo Smallgoods chief executive officer Paul Lederer and Upper Hunter Shire Council general manager Waid Crockett are looking forward to the expansion of the beef production enterprise. Photo courtesy of Scone Advocate

The Brazil based JBS, the world’s biggest processor of fresh meats, has agreed to buy the Primo Group for $1.45 billion.

Primo operates the Scone Abattoir which earlier this year announced it would undertake a $40million upgrade to its facility.

 Primo was started by Paul Lederar and other family members in 1985.

It has grown from 38 employees to become the country’s largest smallgoods manufacturer, with more than 3000 staff.

Private equity firm Affinity Equity Partners bought 70.1 per cent of the company in October 2011, and since then, Primo has acquired Premier Beehive in New Zealand and has grown its export sales significantly, with further expansion opportunities in Asia.

Primo Group chief executive Paul Hitchcock said he welcomed the sale to JBS.

“While it will remain very much business as usual for our employees, suppliers and customers, this transaction offers tremendous opportunities for a producer of high quality products like Primo,” Mr Hitchcock said.

“We look forward to being part of JBS and capitalising on its international distribution network.” JBS chief executive Wesley Batista said the acquisition was strongly aligned with his company’s global strategy to expand its presence in the value-added product category with well-known brands.

“Primo Group is the leading company in this segment with strong brands and represents an outstanding opportunity to grow our business in Australia and internationally,” he said.

The upgrade work at Scone, when ­completed, would mean an additional 100 meatworkers will be employed at the works.

Once a multi-species abattoir supplying mainly Hunter and Sydney butchers, today the facility only processes cattle.

It has become an export facility supplying product throughout the world including the European Union, and Malaysia, as well as having a McDonalds listing to ­supply the fast food chain with hamburger patties.

From vealers through to Jap-ox bullock bulls and cows the business has changed and grown, says chief executive officer Peter Allen.

Mr Allen has been in charge of the works for two years and is keen to see the business grow further, particularly in the export market.

“Our market has changed from being a predominately domestic kill facility to one today where most of our product is exported,”  he said earlier this year.

Mr Allen could not give an exact figure on the increased ­throughput but it would be well above the existing 1000 head processed each day.

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