Weis ice cream factory in Toowoomba bought by Country Synergy for more than $4m

Brandon Long
By Brandon Long
Updated December 2 2021 - 4:26am, first published 4:00am
FAMILY RUN: Katrina and Adrian Hobbs (left, centre), their five children, and Katrina's parents, Jennifer and Andrew Youngberry. Photo: Supplied

A Darling Downs agribusiness has bought the former Weis ice cream factory in Toowoomba for more than $4 million.

Australian family-owned company Country Synergy acquired the site from global giant Unilever and will use it for storage, distribution logistics and food processing.

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The new venture will add to the family's other business interests at Pittsworth and Inglewood, including organic broadacre farming and organic cattle, sheep and poultry production.

Country Synergy managing director Katrina Hobbs said they were looking forward to taking over the factory and planned to employ locals in the next year to help run operations.

"As a local family, we are excited to take on ownership and management of the site and we are looking for opportunities to work with other companies to provide food storage and distribution solutions, as well as offering opportunities for food processing," Ms Hobbs said.

The company said the new site brought a wide range of possibilities to connect paddocks to plates, "offering a range of storage, logistics, distribution and food processing opportunities to explore".

Unilever bought the factory from the Weis family in 2017, and in a shock move two years later, announced its closure and moved production to its Minto facility in Sydney. Toowoomba produced its last Weis bar on January 29 this year.

According to the company, much of the fruit that goes into the ice creams is still being sourced from Queensland farmers.

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Unilever ANZ ice cream sourcing unit leader Keith Head, who is the former Toowoomba director and is now overseeing the Minto facility, said they wished Country Synergy all the best as they grew their operations.

"... It's fantastic to see an Australian family-owned business take the reins of the iconic facility," Mr Head said.

"I have a lot of great memories of my time in Toowoomba and the incredible community.

"While we're officially passing the baton to Country Synergy ..., we hope the Weis legacy will live on in Toowoomba through the Weis Community Fund ..."

Unilever is using 25 per cent of the sale proceeds - more than $1 million - to establish the fund.

Unilever invited organisations operating in and around the Toowoomba district to submit applications, which were then reviewed and shortlisted with help from a local panel.

The recipients of the fund will be announced in the coming weeks.

Country Synergy said it sought to work with interested parties to provide food storage and processing solutions and would consider sub-leasing part of the site.

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Brandon Long

Brandon Long

Queensland Country Life journalist

Brandon Long is a Queensland Country Life journalist based in Toowoomba.

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