Thursday, January 04, 2007

57 Percent Growth for Comvita’s Honey Wound Care Business

Busy Bees Push Comvita to View World Market
Hawke's Bay Today (New Zealand), 1/4/2006

Comvita Limited started production of its honey and bee products as early as the 1920s when co-founder Claude Stratford (then aged 11) began experimenting with manuka honey and bee pollen from his first beehive.

It wasn't until the 1970s that Comvita's products were launched on the New Zealand market, led by Stratford and other co-founder Alan Bougen.

Exports to the United Kingdom and the USA began in 1989, and the following year markets were established throughout Asia. After being listed on the Unlisted Market for a year Comvita joined the NZAX (NZ Stock Exchange Alternative Market) in November 2003.

In April 2004 7.5 million new shares were offered to existing shareholders at $2.05 per share to strengthen the company's balance sheet.

Comvita's core line of products is focussed around the natural healing properties and antibacterial benefits of manuka honey, bee propolis, and bee pollen. The range of products continues to expand through a strong focus on product innovation and a commitment to research and development.

As part of the company's growth strategy it has been diversifying into other areas of the natural health products market.

The purchase of New Zealand based natural health product's company NZ Vitalife has seen Comvita's strategy to expand the proportion of non-bee natural health products in its overall product range realised. In acquiring NZ Vitalife, Comvita has added new intellectual property and a focused range of New Zealand sourced herbal products with markets established in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Significant value to the acquisition can be added by marketing NZ Vitalife's product range under the Comvita umbrella brand and sold into Comvita's international marketing channels.

The $250,000 purchase involved a mix of cash and Comvita shares.

The company's programme of growth through acquisition has also included offshore investments. In February 2006 a long-term exclusive deal was signed with US based Derma Sciences. Comvita has taken a strategic stake in the manufacturer and supplier of specialist wound care products. An initial stake was purchased in February for US$500,000, followed by an additional US$1.0million (1,666,000 shares).

The investment will give Comvita a total stakeholding in Derma Sciences' of approximately 10 percent of the company (including attached warrants being exercised). Comvita's wound care business (UMF Manuka Honey products) has experienced 57 percent growth, which should continue with stronger marketing channels into the US…

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