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Vast olive estate and adjoining hospitality empire placed on the market for sale

The land, buildings and businesses sustaining one of the biggest commercially-run olive estates, function venue and restaurant empires in New Zealand have been placed on the market for sale.

Simunovich Olive Estate in the Bombay Hills some 50 kilometres south of Auckland is home to approximately 30,000 olive trees which have been yielding progressively bigger crop tonnages for nearly two decades – all of which have been pressed and bottled at the estate’s own pressing plant.

The countryside hilltop location also houses the Bracu Pavilion function venue, and the separate Bracu Restaurant – along with multiple dwellings used for staff accommodation.

Both Bracu Pavilion and Bracu Restaurant are heavily patronised by split customer markets - servicing both corporate events and private bookings such as weddings and family gatherings.

The 104.0377-hectare Simunovich Olive Estate is made up of multiple individual land titles, encompassing:
• Some 5.85 hectares of land containing just the olive plantation
• 46.4899 hectares of land housing the olive plantation, a high-quality Italian-made oil pressing and filtration plant, the business’s stainless-steel tank storage warehouse, a certified laboratory, administrative offices, packing machinery, and nearby recreational areas used for the venue’s clay target shooting and archery ranges.
• 35.9 hectares of bare land currently used for livestock grazing and containing a three-bedroom farm house used for staff accommodation and a suite of implement storage shed and a half-round barn for feed storage.
• The chef’s three-bedroom residence sitting on 3.678 hectares of roiling farm land.
• The Bracu Pavilion and Bracu Restaurant operations sitting on 2.548 hectares of land surrounded by the olive trees and adjacent to a landscaped lake, with substantial vehicle parking for guests and a helicopter landing pad.
• 9.471 hectares of slopping hillside land housing the property’s homestead - built by founder and owner Ivan Simunovich - which is also hired out for wedding preparations, as well as smaller events and functions. A large workshop and implement storage shed are also located on the block.

Now the 104-hectare Simunovich Olive Estate property, all building infrastructure, the olive oil growing and manufacturing activities, and hospitality business, have been placed on the market for sale by tender through Bayleys Auckland – with tenders closing on Wednesday May 6th.

Bayleys Auckland salespeople David Bayley, Jayson Hayde and Peter Sullivan said Simunovich Olive Estate was one of the biggest single-site olive oil production plants in New Zealand, while the associated Bracu-branded hospitality operations were among the biggest such locations of their type in the Greater Auckland region. The ‘Bracu’ name is linked to the Adriatic island of Brac in Croatia, which is home to Simunovich Olive Estate founder and owner Ivan Simunovich.

“The property and its various activities benefit from deriving income from multiple streams – namely, the olive oil production, the function venue, and the stand-alone restaurant,” Mr Bayley said.

“With some 20-years in the marketplace, the Bracu name has a strong reputation in Auckland – both as a private and corporate venue. Similarly, the Simunovich Olive Estate oil brand now has a well-established retail network for its product in addition to selling bottled stock through the Bracu food premises.”

Simunovich olive oils have won numerous accolades at the New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards over the years, while Bracu has been equally recognised through both the Cuisine magazine Awards, and the Beef and Lamb Hallmark of Excellence programme.

Fully licensed to cater for up to 190 guests in a cocktail format, or 140 guests in a seated configuration, the 382 square metre Bracu Pavilion has a seasonally-variable booking rack rate ranging from $2,500 in winter up to $4,250 in the peak summer season running between November and March.

Meanwhile, the 330 square metre Bracu Restaurant opens for lunch and dinner between Wednesday and Friday, and for lunches on Saturdays. The restaurant - which has capacity to serve 85 guests per sitting - runs an a-la-carte menu, or an indicative standard three-course set menu for $89.90. It operates from the original farm house.

The two separate foodservice operations each run from their own commercial-standard kitchen amenities – featuring walk-in refrigeration and freezer units, combi’ ovens, deep-fryers, hob stoves, grillers, full dish-washing and drying units, and stainless-steel benching.

Recreational activities at Bracu – including clay target shooting, firing air rifles, knife throwing, and archery – are jointly operated by the estate, and top-of-the-range shotgun marque Beretta. The venue’s restaurant and function venues, combined with the Beretta recreational activities, turned over almost $3 million in the last financial year – with the top line for the current year looking to exceed that.

The Bracu hospitality operations are being sold as a ‘business as usual’ going concern - with four years of advance bookings for weddings and functions already in the books for any new owner to take on.

Mr Hayde said the existing Simunovich Olive Estate property and businesses’ infrastructure offered multiple future use opportunities for any new owner.

“The various business streams already operating on site offer sound foundations for the property to expand both its primary production and hospitality operations,” Mr Hayde said.

“With substantial portions of the property currently used as stock grazing land, from a primary produce perspective, there is the opportunity to either increase the number of olive tree plantings, or add additional high-value crops such as avocado, berries, or lavender.”

The 70 hectares of olive trees at Simunovich Olive Estate are planted in a myriad of Mediterranean root stocks – including leccino and frantoio from Tuscany in Italy, carolea from Southern Italy, and picual, kalamata and koroneiki varietals from Greece. Trees are pruned back by between 30–40 percent annually to ensure on-going maximum crop productivity by allowing sunlight to permeate the centre of the tree for healthier growth.

The business’s olive processing plant currently crushes between six to 10 tonnes of fruit daily during the cropping season, with capacity to press higher volumes without the need for adding any additional equipment.

“Alternatively, looking at what the Bracu entities offer, a new owner/operator could vertically-integrate the venue’s hospitality and function centre offerings by developing an accommodation element to the property. At present this aspect is completely absent from Bracu’s service offering,” Mr Hayde said.

“Subject to council approval, there is ample space and existing internal roading to build the likes of high-end terraced units, stand-alone cabin spaces, or to maintain the location’s links with its original farming roots, older-style relocatable villas could be brought on site.

“With a rural environment and pastoral outlook, glamping would also be an option.”

Mr Sullivan said Simunovich Olive Estate and its sister Bracu operations prided themselves on operating to a high standard of environmental sustainability.

“Irrigation for the olive tree plantings is sourced from a number of ponds and lakes spread across the property, while the processing plant and function buildings each have their own separate bores. Fruit, vegetables and herbs used in dishes prepared for both Bracu Pavilion and Bracu Restaurant’s menus are grown on-site to minimise the carbon footprint generated by food transportation,” Mr Sullivan said.

“Additionally, underpinning the business’s environmental sustainability, all olive waste from the pressed crop is used to fertilise the trees to ensure on-going health of the plants.

“With the fruit pressing, handling and bottling plant running on-site, there is minimal transportation of the olives. It also means they can be cold-pressed on the same day of harvest to deliver premium quality oil with maximum flavor for the consumer.

“And accommodating a high percentage of full-time staff within the property means there is minimal carbon creation from their commute journeys.”

The Simunovich Olive Estate portfolio of oils includes two extra virgin selections, as well as infused varieties containing garlic, rosemary, lemon, or truffles. Any sale of Simunovich Olive Estate’s oil wholesaling activities will include existing supply contracts.

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