1991 Pacific Dunlop acquires Petersville

The Petersville brands acquired by Pacific Dunlop in 1991 included Edgell-Birds Eye, Peters Ice Cream, Herbert Adams Bakeries, Socomin and Four ‘n’Twenty. In 1993, Pacific Dunlop also acquired Plumrose, chiefly to obtain the Yoplait brand.

Writing about the Plumrose acquisition, The Age reported:

PACIFIC Dunlop may not have completely answered the larger strategic question over the future of its food businesses, but it has resolved a few medium-term issues with its acquisition of the Plumrose businesses in Australasia.

The big issue for Pacific Dunlop is whether or not it can acquire the growth in food that will provide its Petersville operations with the critical mass to be a regional player of significance in food.

At the time there were few opportunities for corporates to grow meaningfully through acquisition. Pacific Dunlop set out to improve the food businesses of Petersville while selling off the non-food assets.

The Age article continued:

Given the size and firepower of the multinationals now stomping around Asia, and the financial commitments necessary if PacDun is to carve out some worthwhile niches in those markets, much of the strategic planning at PacDun over the next few years will no doubt revolve around the search for more Plumroses or something substantially larger.

At the time of the takeover, the Managing Director of Pacific Dunlop told the press that his organisation’s objective with Petersville was to maintain food sales of about $1 billion annually but to double the profit rate from about 5 per cent of sales to 10 per cent by June 1993.

By the mid-1990s, Pacific Dunlop Ltd was one of the 20 largest companies in Australia. Its operations spanned more than 20 countries with eight divisions across food, clothing, sports, automotive and other industries. However, in 1995 it sold most of its Pacific Brands Food division to Nestlé SA of Switzerland and the US food processor J.R. Simplot Co.

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