Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

We have to make this work-SPC Ardmona chief

SPC Ardmona chief Peter Kelly won’t be asking for more money from his parent company any time soon.

GEOFF ADAMS August 26, 2014 3:00am

SPC staff member Christian Lecompte celebrates the good news.

SPC Ardmona chief Peter Kelly won’t be asking for more money from his parent company any time soon.

The Coca Cola Amatil board gave approval to his revised upgrade plan for the fruit processor just days before last week’s announcement.

SPC Ardmona has been a drain on CCA’s finances in recent years and the inability to secure Andrew Fairley Ave as part of the proposed $100million upgrade, created speculation that CCA might have lost patience with the food processor.

‘‘I certainly wouldn’t like to be asking again,’’ Mr Kelly told Country News last week.

‘‘We have to make this work, absolutely right now.

‘‘I plan on keeping a low profile in terms of asking for any more favours from CCA.

‘‘They’ve shown a good deal of patience with us.’’

The company will still consolidate the business from three sites onto one but the way it happens will be different.

‘‘Given we weren’t able to access the road and the area it provided, the whole plan of having a big construction project, bringing all of the business categories into one site, became problematic.

‘‘We still need to load trucks and move things around.’’

He said the original plan would have included spending about 25 per cent of the money on a new building.

‘‘That money has been redirected towards changing existing equipment to add more automation, give it a smaller footprint so we can jam more into a smaller factory.’’

He said it was an ‘‘excruciating’’ decision to decide which categories they would have to cut.

But he wanted to concentrate now on developing new products which would be successful.

‘‘This money will get us going.

‘‘Two of our products launched this year have already won prizes for being the best in their category. And SPC won the best promotional marketing award.

‘‘The board was impressed with the idea of letting us go and having our head. We have some good ideas.’’

For growers, Mr Kelly believes the upgrade will offer some longer term stability.

He expects to be able to give longer range supply forecasts.

The company will still meet its minimum requirement of employing 500 or more effective full-time employees, demanded by the Victorian Government when it offered the $22million earlier this year.

Mr Kelly said he has been watching with interest the European Union subsidising tomato manufacturers to make up for any downturn created by the Russian Government’s decision to cease importing some food from the United States and the EU.

‘‘It’s a huge difference to the approach in Australia, including the attitude of the Productivity Commission.

‘‘I hope this is instructional for our bureaucrats.’’

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