Cattle king Zander McDonald is Australia's new 'super butcher' after helping to save one of the country's largest independent meat retailers from extinction.
Mr McDonald, who heads the pastoral powerhouse MDH Holdings based at Devoncourt near Cloncurry, has joined forces with executives from meat wholesaler the Melrina Group to buy the ailing Super Butcher discount meat chain for an undisclosed sum.
Mr McDonald is the chairman and major shareholder of a new company called Stone Reconstructions.
The venture was established by Gary Stone, the principal of Auswide Meat Wholesalers, part of the Melrina Group, for the direct purpose of buying the financially-stressed business.
Spokesman for Stone Reconstructions Otto Wurth said the successful bid was accepted by Super Butcher's administrator on Tuesday and contracts were signed later that night to seal the purchase.
Mr Wurth said the buyout would save 161 jobs and protect the full entitlements of workers including their super.
He said all Super Butcher outlets across Brisbane and the Gold Coast would remain open and the operation would continue to trade as normal.
Mr Wurth said it still remained unclear if all creditors would receive their money, with that decision in the hands of liquidators.
Both Auswide and MDH were part of a long line of creditors, reported to be collectively owed more than $5 million by Super Butcher's former owners, with an additional $2 million owed to the Australian Taxation Office as well an undisclosed figure owed to the Commonwealth Bank.
Auswide was the largest of the unsecured creditors, owed $960,000, while $170,000 was owed to MDH.
The driving force behind the Super Butcher discount meat concept, Andrew McDonald (no relation to Zander McDonald) and a syndicate of other investors were reportedly the rival bidders for the troubled company, which was placed into administration in May due to its mounting debts.
Zander McDonald said his first priority as chairman of the new company would be to "settle things down" over the next 12 months and return stability to the operation in a bid to win back customer and supplier support.
"Let's not kid ourselves here, the business has lost support over the 70 or so days it's been in administration - but there are now two strong family businesses with long histories in the beef industry involved and we are very confident that we can take the business forward and expand it into the future," he said.
"The good news is already out there that we've saved the business and 160 jobs and there is more good news to come.
"Super Butcher is fundamentally a very good business model and the work Andrew did at promoting the brand was very well done.
It's now our job to strengthen that brand and secure this company's future."
MDH Holdings is arguably one of Australia's most successful, privately owned vertically integrated beef businesses with historical roots stretching back to 1827.
MDH runs 175,000 head of cattle over 11 stations on about 34 million square kilometres of country in Queensland, making it one of the largest landholders in the world.
The massive operation has developed a fully integrated supply chain, which involves breeding, backgrounding, lot feeding, live cattle export and grainfed beef production, as well as marketing its own branded beef globally.
The purchase of Super Butcher marks the company's first foray into meat retailing.
Mr McDonald is promising more MDH product out of the operation's 100-day grainfed program from its Wallumba feedlot near Condamine - normally bound for the Japan export market - will filter through Super Butcher's six warehouse outlets in coming weeks.
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