Bottled water exporter placed in administration as dollar continues to erase industry margins

A large exporter of bottled water has been placed in administration, the latest victim in what has been a tumultuous few years for exporters as the Australian dollar continues to climb.

Exporters have continually lobbied the Government for more support as the dollar has climbed above parity, with many wanting more funds available for the Export Market Development Grant program.

Australian Institute of Export executive director Ian Murray told SmartCompany this morning exporters’ margins are coming under extreme pressure.

“They’re finding it difficult. Small and medium exporters are not spending on the markets as much as they were before, and while some have held on due to hedging and so forth, the pressure is just very high,” he says.

Snowy Mountain Bottlers and Snow Mountain Australian Exporters have been placed in administration as of March 2.

Gess Rambaldi of Pitcher Partners has been appointed as administrator. Both Pitcher Partners and Snowy Mountain Bottlers were contacted this morning, but no reply was available prior to publication.

The business has been put up for sale with expressions of interest sought, with Pitcher Partners claiming the company has one of Australia’s “most well-known and fastest growing business brands”.

The company’s website says it has established distribution channels to Australian supermarket chains and wholesalers, and “significant strategic relationships” with Asian markets.

The business says it bottles water from a single spring in the Snowy Mountains. It was established in 1992 and also claims to be 100% Australian owned, exporting to markets in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Thailand.

Ian Murray says there have been a variety of factors pressuring the exporting industry, including the higher dollar and domestic economic conditions.

“It’s a confluence of things that have come together, including more competition on the domestic market, that are just starting to really bite at exporters.”

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