Farm markets

Harris Farm Markets grocer keeps it in the family

Angus and his brothers Tristan and Luke have jointly run the business since 2013. Previously, it was run by their parents and major shareholders, Cathy and David Harris, until they decided – in a decision that surprised their three sons – that David would leave and three of the Harris’ five sons (the other two do not work at the company) would be appointed co-CEOs.

In March of this year, the family appointed Goldman Sachs to look at possible financing options – including a partial sale – to help the company accelerate its store rollout. The process has sparked interest from parties as diverse as Alceon and Bain Capital, the Financial analysisThe Street Talk column reported.

Funds were attracted by the rapid roll-out of the stores offered by the family. The plan was to find around $ 300 million to fund plans to double the number of stores by 2025 and increase earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to $ 131 million per year.

Sales documents predicted the family is expected to generate $ 649 million in revenue, of which about 6% was from online sales, 87% in retail stores and the rest wholesale. Online is now closer to 13% of that, Angus says, and overall revenue has improved.

The beauty of private property is that we are much more patient capital than anyone else.

The Harris brothers say that by keeping the business in family hands, they will always pursue an ambitious store rollout, with two more stores – one on the Isle of Capri in Surfers Paradise and the other in Sydney Lane Cove. – open in the coming months. The company hopes to start a business in Victoria by early next year. But they will do it at their own pace and as the best opportunities arise.

“The beauty of private property is that we are a lot more patient capital than anyone,” Angus said.

Tristan says the early non-foreclosure trade – which is slightly down from foreclosure levels perhaps because more people are choosing to eat out – suggests Harris Farm customers are not yet fully returned to pre-COVID-19 shopping habits.

“The department stores in the mall suffered the most during the lockdown, they increased but did not fully recover,” he said. “Those who really flew [during lockdowns] have come off a bit but are well and truly above what they were before COVID. “

This is also true for online shopping. “We have seen online commerce stabilize at least 200% from where it was before the start of the last NSW lockdown,” Angus said.

And Tristan said the group is moving forward with new initiatives, including ‘reused choices’ where products nearing the end of their shelf life are used for own-brand products such as kale crisps. , garlic bread, ice cream, pizza and smoothies.

Some 97 percent of Harris Farm staff received their first COVID-19 vaccine after a business outbreak. This included booking vaccination centers, arranging staff calls with medical teachers and ATAGI representatives and more recently nurses visiting stores.

“At one point we had a positive case of an employee every day,” Angus said, adding that this left the company understaffed at times as it was in the packing boxes of the business. warehouse at 2 a.m.

Angus and Tristan say the family used their usual consensus approach to making the decision to keep the business, and the whole family is excited about the decision.

“The process has really been an amazing journey for us, learning about the business and where it can go,” Angus said, adding that the equity structure will remain unchanged.