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Equity investment sweetens plans for yoghurt maker

Yoghurt maker The Collective is to launch its products in Europe and expand "massively" in the UK after Pencarrow Private Equity took a 39 per cent stake in the Auckland-based company.

Co-founder and shareholder Angus Allan said it is the first equity partnership for the nearly nine year old company, which has averaged 35 per cent revenue growth for the past four years, producing more than 90 products for New Zealand and UK markets.

The Collective's substantial UK business would be expanded and a European launch was scheduled for next year, though Allan declined to say where for commercial reasons.

The company, which started with nine staff and today has 90 - 25 of whom are in the UK - had revenue last financial year of more than $100 million, he said.

Allan, formerly a chef and creator of Naked Organics, founded the company with Ofer Shenhav, also a chef, of Pitango Organic Cuisine in 2009.

In New Zealand, the Pencarrow deal would enable substantial new investment in the company's Avondale manufacturing plant and the launch of new products, Allan said.

The deal with Pencarrow had been negotiated over two years.

Pencarrow's Rod Gethen said it was clear The Collective was "very special".

"We were impressed with how the brand has turned a declined category into one of immense innovation and excitement. We're particularly pleased with the company's growth over a short period of time and we look forward to supporting the business with our strategy expertise as we work to build the global brand."

All product for New Zealand is made at Avondale using milk sourced from Fonterra. Allan said the company was keen to buy milk direct from farmers. The Auckland plant produced about 300 tonnes of yoghurt a week.

Product for the UK and Europe markets was made under contract in the Northern Hemisphere. The Collective only directly exported to Asia.

The company's business plan was for 35 per cent annual revenue growth for the next four years, Allan said.

He attributed The Collective brand's success to the high quality of its yoghurt, it's on-trend image, its people and "a dash of luck".

We are fastidious with our product, with the quality we make. Our brand is on-trend, we're very open, honest and transparent, no secrets.