26 October 2014
Retail giant Brett Blundy is better known for bras than Brahmans.
The Australian entrepreneur, who last year re-located his head office to Singapore, has made his name and fortune, estimated at more than $800 million, through a range of retail investments.
Brett Blundy Retail Capital (BBRC) has a portfolio of products including lingerie, fashion jewellery, manchester and homewares, sold in 850 stores in 13 countries.
Mr Blundy sees enormous business opportunities in the burgeoning economies of Asia.
Growing affluence is putting more red meat on the menu and he sees northern Australia as a valuable supplier.
“I’ve been travelling to China and Asia for a long while and it occurred to me that China, and consequently the rest of Asia will not be able to feed itself as their economies grow,” Mr Blundy said.
“And I thought that beef and protein were very important.”
That outlook prompted Mr Blundy to buy a large stake in Northern Territory cattle stations, most prominently Amungee Mungee about 600 kilometres south of Darwin.
He last year paid $6.5 million for the 320,000-hectare station. He also owns two other nearby cattle stations, OT Downs and Mungabroom.
But what sets him apart from other corporate investors in the beef sector is his willingness to spend money on developing the properties.
Pastoral partnership a ‘win-win’
Mr Blundy also helped bankroll an ambitious project on nearby Beetaloo Station to install watering points – troughs and tanks – at strategic intervals across the 1 million-hectare property, which means the pasture can be far better utilised.
The program was started by the John and Trish Dunicliff family nine years ago, but outside funding from the retail giant helped speed up the development program.
“Increasing productivity is going to be essential in beef growing and that was the start of the relationship,” Mr Blundy said.
“John was doing something spectacular. It needed funding to be successful. It was too good an opportunity.”
Bringing water to every corner of the property has brought a stunning increase in productivity.
Beetaloo’s Brahman herd has grown in a few short years from 20,000 head to 80,000.
Mr Blundy is enthusiastic about his pastoral partnership.
“It’s off the scale. It’s really turning out to be even better than the original forecasts were – which is terrific all round; from an investment point of view but even from utilising the land and being able to produce more beef.
“The world needs that. So it’s really win-win.”
Investment in water allows station to grow
Mr Blundy is funding a similar blueprint on Amungee Mungee and several thousand kilometres of polythene pipe is being installed to run bore water to a series of stock troughs that will be installed across the property.
“This is brilliant. This is what we’ve dreamt of our whole life,” manager Adrian Brown said.
He and his wife, Emma, have a 12.5 per cent stake in the venture and are overseeing the station’s transformation.
They anticipate that once the watering program is complete their 5,000 head herd will be able to expand to 20,000.
The cost of each watering point is about $60,000 and until recently there have been plenty of sceptics in the northern beef industry who have viewed it as overcapitalising.
Now the productivity gains are beyond question, Mr Blundy is happy to speak publicly for the first time about his foray into northern-Australian beef.
“I think the world and Australia are waking up to the value of having Asia so close to us and that’s a huge advantage and that in itself will drive the north to much greater heights over the years that come, so I think it’s a very good place to be.”
Courtesy of 7 News