10 April 2020

Established in 1981, Ambrosia Nurseries has grown into one of New Zealand’s leading and most respected wholesale plant container nurseries. Based just outside of Christchurch, the nursery has become the preferred supplier to major retail chains including Mitre 10, Bunnings and The Warehouse.

Owners Greg and Chris Kitson discuss the guesswork in assessing market demand, and their succession plans to pass on the business to the next generation of horticulturalists.

Greg Kitson took over Ambrosia Nurseries in 1987 and has since transformed the business into an operation that employs 20 full-time staff, with sales growing consistently over the financial years.

Greg engaged Craig Rhodes at the Nexia Christchurch office when he felt his accountant’s preferences did not match his own, and he realised he required more than just textbook financial and compliance advice.

“An accountant is not just someone who files your taxes at the end of the year; they are also there to advise you about your business. If they’re unaware of your goals, they can’t help you think strategically about the future,” said Greg.

“We immediately knew once we engaged with Craig Rhodes that he was the right fit for our business,” said Greg.

“Before Craig Rhodes came on board in 2013, our annual turnover was 1.6 million. This is compared to 4.3 million in the 2019 Financial Year.”

“That is a 300% growth. Craig has been an invaluable asset to our business.

“Craig has not just been a compliance and financial advisor; he always has something of value to add. Be it advice about industry trends, competitor activities and general horticultural market knowledge, he has gone above and beyond,” said Greg.

Greg has a strong focus on growth and the opportunities presented by New Zealand’s fast-growing horticultural sector.

“Craig has encouraged and supported us to invest back into the business. As we grew, we found that automation is a worthwhile investment, in particular innovative horticultural equipment,” said Greg.

Greg has identified several market growth opportunities and operational efficiency-improvement potentials in the business but is at the stage in his commercial life where he is ready to make those prospects available to the next generation of Kitson’s.

His 25-year-old son, Jake Kitson, has recently returned from a stint working in Western Australia and is prepared to take over the day to day operations.

“A family run business for 40 years, the future will bring with it an opportunity for the next generation to put their stamp on the business,” said Greg.

“Craig will be heavily involved in the process of putting together a succession plan for our business and ensuring a smooth transition and handover.

“I am very pleased the future of Ambrosia Nurseries is in such good hands,” said Greg.

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