New Home for Dessert Business

McCain Foods has sold its trans-Tasman Sara Lee business to New Zealand investment company South Island Office. Sara Lee’s operations will be integrated with 30-year-old New Zealand firm Original Foods Baking Co which, like Sara Lee, specialises in baked goods and desserts.

“The combined product ranges and distribution channels are highly complementary,” the company said in a statement announcing the deal.

Continuing to lead the Sara Lee team will be Mark Mackaness, who McCain appointed as GM of Sara Lee in 2019. Mackaness has bought equity in the new company and will become group CEO. 

For the past two years, McCain Foods has been working to establish Sara Lee as a separate standalone operation in readiness for a spinoff. 

“Sara Lee is highly complementary to Original Foods Baking Co,” said Mackaness.

“Original Foods Baking Co is already branching out to Australia and beyond with its range of brownies, slices, bites and more. At Sara Lee, we have built an iconic Australian bakery brand, and our quality ice cream, cheesecakes, apple pies, danishes and puddings have been a household favourite in Australia and New Zealand for 50 years.

“This partnership allows both businesses to gain exposure to new channels and markets as we have different strengths in retail and foodservice in Australia and New Zealand.”

Under the terms of the purchase agreement, McCain will continue to provide business process and services support to Sara Lee for a period following the sale. Mackaness made a commitment to the 220 staff of the 50-year-old Sara Lee factory in Lisarow, NSW, that all will remain with the business.

“Since 2013, McCain has invested more than $40 million in Sara Lee’s product innovation and infrastructure to create a successful, well-run business that is prepared for growth and future, so we will look to continue to innovate and maintain our growth journey from day one.”