14/09/2004 - 22:00

Richgro takes on Amazon

14/09/2004 - 22:00

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The Richards family, owner of the Richgro garden products business, has expanded its operations by acquiring Amazon Soils and Landscaping Supplies.

Richgro takes on Amazon

The Richards family, owner of the Richgro garden products business, has expanded its operations by acquiring Amazon Soils and Landscaping Supplies.

The strategy underlying the purchase reflects some notable social trends.

“Increasingly people are conscious of the need for quality,” managing director Geoff Richards said.

“This is an opportunity for us to supply the market with quality product.”

A second trend was the peaking of ‘do it yourself’ gardening after the rapid growth of the 1980s and 1990s.

Mr Richards said older baby boomers were increasingly hiring other people to establish and maintain their gardens.

In addition, homebuilders and developers were increasingly including landscaping in their house and land packages.

As a result, professional landscapers and gardeners, who patronise wholesale suppliers such as Amazon, had become the major growth segment.

The purchase of Amazon flowed from an agreement among the five former owners that all would sell if one chose to sell.

The five directors, including outgoing managing director Ron Hoyer, engaged West Perth firm Mergers and Acquisitions to find a buyer.

The Amazon purchase marks a return to the bulk soils business for Mr Richards, who owned market leader Soils Aint Soils between 1988 and 1994.

A key difference is that Amazon is a specialist wholesaler while Soils Aint Soils, which has been embroiled in the financial woes of former owner Kevin Pollock, also has retail outlets.

The Amazon purchase is the family’s second recent expansion move following last year’s purchase of the rights to the Cresco fertiliser brand from Wesfarmers subsidiary CSBP.

Mr Richards’ core business, Richgro, which operates from a 45-hectare site at Canning Vale, has been through significant development.

A key trend was the introduction of a wider range of organic products.

Richgro has also built up its interstate sales, which now account for about half of total sales.

Mr Richards said investment in new technology had helped to keep the company competitive.

For instance, Richgro has a fully automated bagging line that handles 22,000 bags a day.

“Our aim is to be the lowest cost, quality producer. With the big national companies attack-ing us, that is the way to survive,” Mr Richards said.

The Richards family company, A Richards Pty Ltd, has been trading since 1916, initially as grocers, then stock and poultry food manufacturers, and as garden products suppliers since 1969.

It has a rare record of longevity, with Mr Richards son Tim being the fourth generation family member to join the business.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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