New Zealand investors buy McGrath Nurseries

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Waikato’s McGrath Nurseries, one of New Zealand’s largest and most successful fruit tree nurseries, has been sold to New Zealand investors.

Founder Andy McGrath will retain his varietal development and intellectual property ownership businesses and stay on as a director of the new nursery company – to be called McGrath Nurseries 2019 Ltd.

New Zealand-based Genesis Private Equity has bought the nursery business, which is a major supplier of apple, pear, peach, nectarine, plum, apricot and cherry trees to commercial growers around the country. 

McGrath Nurseries is the dominant supplier in the New Zealand summerfruit industry, growing more than 90 percent of cherry trees and more than 75 per cent of apricot trees planted here; and is one of two major New Zealand apple tree nurseries, growing a significant proportion of this country’s apple trees.

Genesis Private Equity chair John Rolleston said the acquisition is an excellent opportunity to be involved in New Zealand’s horticultural sector at a time of sustained growth.

“McGrath Nurseries is a leading business, with a strong reputation for excellence across all levels of the organisation,” he said. “We are pleased to also have an ongoing and working relationship with McGrath’s founder, Andy McGrath. This is a fantastic New Zealand success story and Genesis is looking forward to being part of the next chapter.”

McGrath said he is “very pleased that the future of the nursery is in such good hands.”

“I’ve always been passionate about varietal improvement and all aspects of intellectual property. Now they’ll become my focus. There are some exciting new varieties in the pipeline waiting to come through,” he said.

Newly appointed chief executive of McGrath Nurseries 2019 is Ben Curry, who is leaving his role as chief executive at Rangitata Diversion Race Management to take up the McGrath role.  Curry will start working with McGrath and his team at the nursery in July, with the transfer of ownership occurring in September.

“We are particularly pleased that Andy will continue to be involved as a director. His knowledge is irreplaceable,” Curry said.

“Genesis invests New Zealanders’ funds in New Zealand businesses. It invests in solid, profitable businesses that will welcome an investor bringing commercial expertise at governance level, as well as capital. It looks for companies with experienced management, consistent and growing profitability, and a strong economic foundation for future growth. McGrath Nurseries is a successful business that ticks all those boxes,” he said.

“It is very much business as usual for us at McGrath Nurseries. The nursery looks excellent at the moment and we have all but sold all our trees.  Our immediate task is to nurture those trees, and then to continue delivering a quality product to the growing New Zealand market,” he says.

“At the same time we will have a strong focus on growth and the opportunities presented by New Zealand’s fast growing horticultural sector.

“We are very serious about our relationships with our growers. We will have all the same staff here at the Cambridge nursery, we are using the same land and will continue Andy’s focus on working alongside orchardists as they decide what to plant and making sure we provide them with excellent quality, disease free trees that will support their livelihoods for many years to come.”

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