RESCUE PLAN: Haset Sali.
RESCUE PLAN: Haset Sali.

Lawyer: I’ll save SPC again

A SUNSHINE Coast commercial lawyer and strategic planner, who brought SPC back from the brink more than 20 years ago, says the company should never have been allowed to reach its present state.

Haset Sali, of Maroochydore, the company's former executive chairman and a director for 15 years, has written to Treasurer Joe Hockey outlining an ambitious plan to again restore the company's fortunes.

He says the Federal Government is right in requiring a clear appreciation of what improvements the company intends to make.

And he contends the ACCC should never have allowed Coca-Cola Amatil to achieve a monopoly by buying the company.

"Coke should have invested when it took over instead of waiting until now and holding its hand out to the Federal and State governments to help fund $120 million in capital improvements,'' he said.

Mr Sali, whose family retains extensive business interests including orchards in Shepparton where the SPC cannery is based, said the problems were with management that had not properly marketed its products or shown the inventiveness needed to establish new markets.

He proposes a grower buyout of the business as the first step to restoring SPC as one of Australia's leading brands.

That, however, would require the parent company to sell at a "realistic price".

If that was to occur, Mr Sali said he would return to Shepparton to help the business.

He said the key was to steer SPC into new areas like walnuts which required less water and delivered high returns. Mr Sali also sees a real opportunity in olives and olive oil grown in the region.

"It is sad to see a company that could be exceptional begging for help,'' he said.

"Australia needs to focus on premium quality products to affluent northern hemisphere markets in the EU, North America and Asia.

"We need to be leading the dining revolution, not just digging up a quarry.''

The Prime Minister on Thursday said SPC's parent company Coca-Cola Amatil had recorded a half-year profit of $216 million and had the resources to turn the company around.

Mr Abbott has pointed to the potential of a revised enterprise bargaining agreement with workers to improve its fortunes.

Mr Sali was highly critical of Coke in his letter to Mr Hockey.

"Coke also acquired SPC Ardmona at Shepparton in Victoria a food icon by convincing the ACCC to allow a monopoly,'' he wrote.

"Through lack of vision, non-creative marketing and poor new product development Coke have proceeded to allow SPC Ardmona to rapidly fall into decline whilst blaming the inflated Australian dollar."


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