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Troubled Spring Gully gets boost after plea

Spring Gully Foods went into voluntary administration on Friday after crumbling with debts of more than $3 million, leaving the future of jobs hanging.

But the 65-year-old South Australian pickles and sauce food company got a boost when three weeks worth of sales happened in three days, reviving its hope of a brighter future.

A huge supply of pickled onion, gherkins, chutneys, sweet chilli sauce, Worcestershire sauce and other products left its Dry Creek warehouse on Sunday to stock up supermarkets around the state.  

More truckloads are expected to follow today after huge orders for the products from major retailers, Adelaide Now reported.

Spring Gully managing director Kevin Webb said the company had received extraordinary support from its customers from Friday to Monday, with orders coming in from Foodland, IGA and Coles for its South Australian stores.

Spring Gully was also granted a large new national contract by Coles yesterday to supply its Coles Brand Brown Pickled Onions in 525g jars.

“We are going to help them by stocking extra Dick Smith products and awarding new contracts to supply Coles brand products,” Coles general manager for SA Vito Borello said.

“This new national contract will add to our existing range of more than 30 branded and Coles Brand products supplied by Spring Gully.”

Foodland chief executive Russell Markham said that in 35 years in the industry, he had never seen such sentiment and boost in sales to an announcement.

“I made a call to Spring Gully at the weekend to allocate a carton of every one of its products to every Foodland store,” he said.

Webb blamed a tough retail environment and rising utility costs for the company’s collapse but was unable to explain the sudden 60 per cent fall in its sales.

“For some reason our sales just fell off four to five weeks ago which we’re still trying to figure out,” he said.

The company sells its own products and produces goods under contract as well – Dick Smith jams and Ozemite comprise 20 per cent of the company’s sales – through the major supermarket chains.

But Mr Webb did not blame Coles and Woolworths or comment on whether changes to the position of his products on supermarket shelves played a role in the slump in sales.

He said customers decided the future of the company but the collapse brought up a more worrying issue.

"We ask for your support around the country, to buy the Spring Gully, Leabrook Farm, Gardener brands and support Dick Smith in his endeavours to help people like ourselves produce Australian-grown food," he said.

Administrator Austin Taylor of Meertens Chartered Accountants will hold a creditors meeting soon but the company will keep running and employ 43 people until its future is known.

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