Harvey Norman Boss Has A Cucumber Problem
First up it was cows and dairy farmers, now cucumbers have become a pain in the backside for Harvey Norman boss Gerry Harvey.
12 months after he took big losses on his Coomboona dairy farm, he’s now flogging his 5-hectare, artisanal cucumber operation at Peats Ridge which has been described as being a state-of-the-art farming complex.
His plan to dominates the global tzatziki trade have come to an end, what’s not known is whether the jailing of dodgy appliance Company executive Andrew Young a former Co-Director of appliance Company Kleenmaid had anything to do with the decision.
Kleenmaid, collapsed in 2009 owing $96 million. Three weeks ago, he was found guilty of insolvent trading and of defrauding Westpac of $13 million by dishonestly gaining a loan. After a lengthy jury trial in Brisbane, Young was refused bail until his February sentencing hearing.
In between being charged and convicted Young was the facility manager for Gerry Harvey at his Family Fresh Farms business.
Back in 2012 ChannelNews revealed that the Young brothers had been charged with various fraud offences.
This was well before he started working for Gerry Harvey, with whom he presumably had a close relationship as Harvey Norman was at the time selling Kleenmaid appliances.
The AFR said that ‘few would employ someone with a criminal charge hanging over their heads, but Harvey clearly takes supplier relations more seriously than most’.
The Australian Financial Review also said that unlike Coomboona, a controversial and ultimately lousy investment by Harvey-controlled retailer Harvey Norman, Family Fresh Farms is (for now) owned directly by the billionaire, who only last August was spruiking his “not-so-little secret passion project” where seasonal workers from Vanuatu pick millions of hydroponic baby cucumbers.
Is Gerry Strapped for cash?
It’s also been revealed that Gerry Harvey has been raising cash of late.
He put up $120 million of his Harvey Norman shares as collateral for an ANZ personal loan in December.
The billionaire paid $5 million for the Peats Ridge site in May 2013 and didn’t do much with it for several years. Local rumour holds his original intention had been to harvest a medicinal marijuana crop, but when the licensing didn’t work out, he turned to cucumbers instead, spending $20 million building the current facility, which opened in 2017.
Along the way, Harvey also coughed up $15,000 in fines to the New South Wales Environmental Protection Authority, after a site visit in May of that year uncovered it burning woodchips to heat its greenhouses before it had secured the necessary licences.