Blackmores banks on pets to overcome COVID crunch, drops Chinese medicine play

Vitamins maker Blackmores is vowing to look beyond the COVID-19 pandemic and seek growth in mental health and pet supplements as it offloads an acquisition made by former chief Christine Holgate in 2016.

The $1.3 billion wellness business acknowledged at its annual general meeting on Tuesday the coronavirus pandemic had been a “huge challenge” for the company, but pointed to its continued strength in Australian and Asian markets and how its new Braeside facility had cemented its role as a local manufacturer.

Alastair Symington is unwinding an acquisition made by former CEO Christine Holgate in 2016.
Alastair Symington is unwinding an acquisition made by former CEO Christine Holgate in 2016. Credit:

Chief executive Alastair Symington also revealed on Tuesday that the company would divest Chinese herbal medicine play Global Therapeutics, which it acquired under the stewardship of former chief executive Christine Holgate in 2016.

Blackmores bought the Byron Bay business for $23 million, with Ms Holgate saying at the time that Global Therapeutics’ Fusion and Oriental Botanicals brands would “bring us closer to our Chinese consumers in Australia”.


Mr Symington also flagged new areas of focus for the business on Tuesday, including pet supplements, which Blackmores said would be worth $350 million in China alone in the next four years.

The company was also planning to use its Blackmores Institute, the research arm of the business, in a play for growing its presence in the “mental wellbeing” market.

“This is an area which we believe Blackmores has the potential to lead the category in both education and innovation,” Mr Symington said.

Blackmores shares jumped to an intra-day high of $68.38, 8 per cent above Monday’s close, before closing 0.68 per cent higher at $63.77 as the broader ASX 200 slid 1.7 per cent.

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