Turners & Growers – Timeline & Fruit Distributors Ltd

So, where are we at in the lead-up to Easter 2013?  That’s right… The CEO who was not going anywhere, did indeed go off somewhere in search of a new home a short week later.  The talent which had exited Turners & Growers prior to the now exorcised ex-CEO tripping himself up is happily finding new homes across the road at Freshmax and I presume elsewhere.  The Noboa shareholding is wondering whether there will be any more Fyffes banana imports anytime soon  and the staff left in situ are running a book on when the next restructure will occur.  In the meantime it is business as usual at Turners & Growers. Or is it?  I guess, that depends on how one defines this phrase…business as usual.

[Rykers, Leslie Bertram Archibald], 1897-1976 :Turners & Growers Ltd. Auckland city markets [ca 1931].  Alexander Turnbull Library

[Rykers, Leslie Bertram Archibald], 1897-1976 :Turners & Growers Ltd.
Auckland city markets [ca 1931]. Alexander Turnbull Library

 

If one visits the Timeline on the Turners & Growers website, one quickly discovers that, at least in Turners & Grower country, time appears to have stood still between 1959 and 1993.  Nothing happened here, Sir!  Nothing to report… Business as usual.  Business as usual, my foot. Any observer with the rational thought ability of a seven-year old child is able to deduce that a whole bunch of things occurred between 1959 and 1993…and that Turners & Growers must either have been in a deep slumber  a la Snow White after eating her poisoned apple (now here is a thought) or the events of those years must have had such a dramatic impact on the company that the decision was made to simply pretend that those years did not exist!

In order to understand the Turners & Growers of today, one needs to start a little earlier though.  In 1936 to be precise.  That was the year when Michael Joseph Savage, New Zealand’s first Labour Prime Minister won the general election.  He radically started to change the country’s economic drivers.  One of the consequences was the establish of a government import monopoly for fresh fruit, managed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.This state monopoly stayed in place until 1949 when the incoming National Government decided to set up a company in cooperation with all the produce merchants in the country, for the purpose of managing the importation of tropical fruit from a commercial perspective.  (What does that remind you of by the way… an early version of a State Owned Enterprise by any chance???)  The new company  was called Fruit Distributors Ltd (FDL) The company still exists by the way.

In order to get a feeling for what  happened next, a visit to this very informative page on the Auckland Retail Fruiterers Association website would not go amiss.

What the Fruiterers site does NOT spell out in detail is that Turners & Growers during the 1950s and 1960s became the majority shareholder in FDL through acquiring the key produce merchant companies across the country, all of which had been allocated a shareholding in Fruit Distributors at the outset.  What is not entirely clear today is whether the merchant company acquisitions yielded the shares in FDL by fortuitous happenstance or whether the desire to own FDL drove the competitor buyouts.

…to be continued.

 

 

 

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