Thomas Foods International (TFI), the Australian meat and seafood supplier, has taken over full ownership of local peer and fellow family business Frew Foods International.

The deal, for an undisclosed sum, gives Thomas Foods, which has held a 50% stake in Victoria-based Frew since 2020, full control of Frew’s meat processing plant.

Frew, located in Stawell, will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the TFI global group of companies. It will be renamed Thomas Foods International Stawell.

Post-deal, Frew managing director Robert Frew will leave the business but the local management team remains in place at Stawell, led by plant manager Shane Wittmann.

Dulwich, South Australia-headquartered TFI is a processor of lamb, mutton, beef, goat and seafood and, since last year, plant-based products.

Founded in 1988, it supplies retailers including Woolworths in Australia and Tesco in the UK. It also ships to the US and Asia.

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By GlobalData

Frew is a 39-year-old wholesaler of lamb, mutton and goat meat products to major supermarkets and butchers across Australia. It also exports to more than 85 countries.

It employs 500 people and has the capacity to process 6,000 head of stock per shift.

TFI suggests the deal provides both companies with growth prospects across national and international markets.

Managing director Darren Thomas said: “Robert and his father Arch have created an outstanding local operation which we will look to grow further in the future.

“We have exciting plans for Stawell within our national and international operations and as such we’re looking to invest significantly here for the long term.”

Robert Frew said: “I am leaving the business in extremely strong Australian hands. Our families have known each other well over two generations and since TFI took a 50% stake in the company they have proven to be a fully committed partner that will take this operation well into the future.”

As part of this transition, TFI said it is committed to an upgrade of the Stawell facility through a “staged and multi-faceted investment programme of around A$100m ($66.5m).

The investment will support an increase in the workforce at Stawell to around 750 full-time jobs.