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Former Bendon MD Buys Arthur Ellis Limited

Media Release

Former Bendon MD Buys Arthur Ellis Limited

Former Bendon Group managing director, Hugo Venter, has purchased one of New Zealand’s oldest companies, Arthur Ellis Limited.

Arthur Ellis, which owns and manages well known brands such as Fairydown Bedware, Fairydown Adventure, Columbia Sportswear and Great Outdoors, is best known for providing the Fairydown sleeping bag used by Sir Edmund Hillary on the first ascent of Mt Everest in 1953.

Mr Venter, who left Bendon in March, has bought 40% of the 125 year old company, with the remaining 60% bought by AMP Henderson Private Capital Fund. Arthur Ellis’ annual turnover is $50 million.

“Following our unsuccessful bid for Bendon, I looked at other exciting business opportunities in New Zealand. Arthur Ellis was attractive because it has some of New Zealand’s best recognised brands. It also has a sound infrastructure with skillful people and fantastic growth opportunities,” Venter says.

Having worked with AMP Henderson on the Bendon bid, Mr Venter decided to partner with the fund again. Following a period of due diligence, the purchase was completed this month.

“The current business provides a very good platform from which to grow the company and we have enough funding for the expansion of existing brands and the purchase of strategic acquisitions,” Venter said.


The company currently employs 130 people, has offices in Auckland, Sydney and Christchurch, and manufactures both locally and offshore. New Zealand accounts for 70% of its sales.

Venter’s plans for the future include streamlining and modernising the company, re-establishing its brand position and an increased focus on the export market for all brands. “New Zealand has an excellent tourism market and a strong environmental ‘all-seasons’ international reputation. I see real benefits in taking our brands to the world. Fairydown Adventure, for instance, is one of the top adventure brands in this country and we believe it has great potential overseas.”

The Fairydown sleeping bag used by Sir Edmund Hillary is part of an Auckland Museum exhibition next year celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first ascent.

Previously part of the Donaghys Group, Arthur Ellis sells Fairydown bedware, camping equipment and clothing throughout New Zealand and exports to Russia, Korea, the US, Europe and the UK.

It owns the license for Columbia Sportswear in New Zealand, with two retail stores in Auckland and Christchurch. The clothing is sold in more than 80 stores nationwide. The Great Outdoors is New Zealand and Australia’s dominant camping brand and has 85 centres across both countries.


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