29/06/2004 - 22:00

Receivers appointed to award-winning Nebru

29/06/2004 - 22:00

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Receivers appointed to award-winning Nebru

 

Award-winning beef exporter Nebru Exports and associated company Nebru Plains have had receivers and managers appointed by Rabobank.

Just last year Nebru Exports, owned by Robert and Diana Nottle, won Rabobank’s Agribusiness Award for Excellence Supply Chain Management.

Mr Nottle confirmed the bank had brought Ferrier Hodgson partner Martin Jones in as receiver and manager.

“We’re working with the receivers to get the best results for all concerned,” Mr Nottle said.

He declined to comment on how the company, which had seemed to be a model for the Western Australian beef industry, had found itself in such dire straits.

Mr Jones said Rabobank had put in the receivers at the Nottles’ request. He said the chances looked good for the business coming out of receivership and returning to profitable trading.

“The support from industry, their clients and government has been very strong,” Mr Jones said.

“If we can marshal that support into reconstructing the business it will be good.”

Mr Jones said the business had Rabobank’s support.

Nebru has carved a niche for itself in the difficult Japanese and South Korean beef markets.

Nebru Plains owns and operates a 2,700-hectare property with a feedlot at Three Springs in the Mid-West, while Nebru Exports has an export licensed beef abattoir at Mandurah, which also bought cattle from other farmers.

The Mandurah operation was set up in 1998 after the company’s partnership with Clover Meats, which was killing Nebru animals on contract, came to an end when the Clover facility closed.

That boutique operation is believed to be one source of the company’s woes, with the other thought to be the Bovine Spongi-form Encephalopathy (BSE, or mad cow disease) outbreak in Japan in 2001.

WAFarmers meat section president Mike Norton said Nebru had been struggling since that outbreak.

“Japanese consumers are fickle. It doesn’t take much to spook them,” he said.

Mr Norton said the abattoir had probably also been a burden on the company.

“You need a big premium to run a boutique abattoir. The through-put was pathetic,” he said.

The company made some inroads into solving the BSE concerns in Japan by creating a “passport system” for its beef that allowed shoppers to trace the meat’s journey from farm to fridge.

That passport system helped the company win the Rabobank award, while having its own abattoir helped in that regard because it gave the company control over how its meat was handled.

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