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Fine food partnership sets sights on export

LIONEL Samson and Son has set its sights on the food markets of the world after the purchase of a controlling share in a Perth gourmet manufacturer, Ogilvie and Co Fine Food Merchants.

The deal, signed last week, is Lionel Samson’s first foray into food exporting and has already sparked interest among international distributors in Japan, Malaysia and Norway.

Lionel Samson and Son managing director Geoff Cook said there was good potential for exporting Australian food produce.

“Ogilvie and Co is complementary to the type of business we do. I think that fine food has a lot of potential for growth domestic-ally and especially exporting over-seas,” he said.

“It will open up new and existing markets. Some of our distributors also have a fine food business and I see it as complementary to what we do now.”

According to Ogilvie founder Annamaria Ogilvie, the partnership will forge international markets, develop Ogilvie’s WA presence and expand Ogilvie’s operations in the eastern States.

Ms Ogilvie said she received an approach from Lionel Samson more than a year ago to discuss the possibility of exporting her produce.

“They have the infrastructure and years of trading experience with wine and liquor and wanted to bring the food side into it. It’s a good synergy,” she said.

“We have been discussing the possibility for 12 months but only signed an agreement last week.

 “It is basically pulling our resources together.”

Ms Ogilvie said the gourmet food market had become extremely competitive in recent years and had agreed to sell a controlling share of her company based on Lionel Samson’s market position.

“We want to stay at the top end, that’s were Lionel Samson sits in the marketplace. They have already sold Plantagenet Wines into a food and wine retailer in Japan,” she said.

“It is very hard to get into there. The wines go to 23 or 24 stores and now they want to talk about food as well. The doors are opening as a result of Lionel Samson’s reputation.”

Ms Ogilvie said the good reputation Australian wines were gaining overseas provided an opportunity for Australian gourmet food exports.

Ms Ogilvie’s products are already exported to several international countries.

“We export to New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, and the UK,” she said.

Ms Ogilvie started Ogilvie and Co Find Food Merchants in 1987 and is now selling produce to the company that was her first competitor.

“I started Ogilvie 16 years ago and our only main competitor was Fortman and Mason. They were a UK company and there was nothing much in the Australian food industry,” Ms Ogilvie said.

“We were one of the first to create and market gourmet food and now it’s really competitive.

“Now we’re selling to Fortman and Mason in London.”

Ms Ogilvie also operated the retail outlet Ogilvie’s Speciality Foods in Subiaco, which she sold several years ago.

“Our largest market is New South Wales and Victoria. The wholesale aspect [in Perth] never took on a big part until I sold the retail side because I didn’t want to over-saturate the market,” she said.

“There are plans to do a bit more in the local market now that we are joining with Lionel Samson.”

p          See page 14 and Trade, page 24

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