Gary West

Corporate Advisor

Eskdale Investment
Co Pty Ltd

Mountain H2O

Mountain H2O Pty Ltd (‘H2O’) was a privately owned company, with manufacturing based in Albury but with source water facilities at Kancoona, Nug Nug and Buffalo Creek.  Operating since mid-2000, H2O is a quality manufacturer of bottled natural spring water.  
 

With the introduction of a state of the art manufacturing facility and its company owned spring water sources located in the pristine North East alpine areas, the company had rapidly grown its share of the bottled water market in Australia.  
 

By the 2011-12 financial year, H2O had seen its share of the national bottled water market in Australia achieve approximately 25%, with targeted future growth a realistic and achievable expectation for the business.
 

At that time, an estimated 30% of the total H2O bottled water sales were conducted under H2O owned brands, with the balance represented by private label and contract packing arrangements. This mix of company owned brands created an overall value proposition for the company and reduced the risk profile from sole reliance on contract packing.
 

In November 2011, H2O entered contracts to sell the shares in the company, to Asahi Holdings (Australia) Pty Ltd, with settlement effected on 30 January 2012.
 

Gary was both, a major shareholder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of H2O.  Gary also led the negotiations with Schweppes Australia (also owned by Asahi) relative to sales terms and was central to the business evolution, development and value achieved on shareholder exit.

Over an 11 year period, H2O progressed from a startup business, to a national player in the bottled water market. Gary was Chairman of the company for this full period. 

Hungry Jacks

From April 2003, Gary was a minor shareholder and Director of the Hungry Jacks franchise owner in Albury, Lavington and Wagga, Huon Investments Pty Ltd.
 

Following a company restructure, whereby the major shareholder exited the business, Gary became the franchisee and 50% co-owner of the Hungry Jacks restaurants, in September 2009.
 

Unfortunately, a number of challenges were around the corner, namely:

  • The Albury restaurant was destroyed by fire on the 23rd January 2010 and reopened 12 months and 3 days later, in late January 2011, and 

  • The Lavington landlord (Caltex) closed their service station in April 2012, which had a significant impact on sales achieved at the franchise and lead to the closure of the restaurant

Both of these hurdles, only made our company resolution stronger.

 

Gary restructured the business and the management teams and renewed the business focus.

 

Rather than just rebuild what the fire had destroyed in Albury, the Directors redesigned the restaurant layout, playground location and drive thru access lanes.  Albury reopened with a brand new fit-out and was a success from day 1.  

 

The company then undertook a complete refurbishment of the Wagga Hungry Jacks restaurant and entered a new franchise agreement and long term lease.

 

The Lavington franchise agreement was relocated to a new Hungry Jacks restaurant in Wodonga, which was opened in April 2014.  After assessing thirteen possible sites in Wodonga, the business created their own purpose built premises in White Box Rise, on a major route intersection.  

 

Following strong interest from the Hungry Jacks Griffith operator, the company sold the Hungry Jacks Wagga restaurant in December 2014.

 

The Hungry Jacks Albury and Hungry Jacks Wodonga restaurants were also sold in September 2015, to the Wagga and Griffith operators.

Stacks of Snacks

Stacks of Snacks Franchising Pty Ltd (‘SOS’) began in 1996 with a single company owned territory in Darwin.
 

SOS is a National franchisor, specialising in honesty snack boxes providing workplace confectionery snacks.  SOS chocolate and sugar confectionery boxes are placed in a wide variety of workplaces. SOS is the world’s largest snack box provider, with affiliations to two charities, Lifeline and Tackers, who receives substantial royalties each year.
 

Gary was a shareholder and a Director of SOS and ran the business in conjunction with his older brother, Len. 
 

Following the decision to establish a new territory in Melbourne, the Directors decided that the SOS
system was of sufficient quality and profitability, to warrant creating a Franchisor system.  The sale of the Darwin business constituted the first Franchisee and Len re-located to Melbourne to start the creation of the expanded business, Franchise territory # 2.

 

The business was then up and running.  Whilst SOS started with a single business in Darwin and expanded across Australia, it currently has 44 franchise territories, owned by 25 Franchisees. 
 

Gary sold out to his brother Len and the SOS Operations Manager in November 2008 when the system had 52 franchisees.

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