Wests | An iconic investment

After an eight-year stint working in Asia and raising three young boys, Angela and Craig McFarlane felt a pull to return to their Dunedin roots.

“We wanted the boys to have more of a Kiwi lifestyle and upbringing, and both our families are originally from Dunedin,” says Angela. 

It’s fitting then, that they are now the proud owners of drink, cordial and syrup producer Wests – an iconic Dunedin business and one of New Zealand’s oldest companies.

Wests was established in 1876 by UK-born Tom West, who began making cordials in handcrafted bottles. In its nearly 150-year history, Wests has remained independent, with ownership passing from family to family. It is the oldest continuous manufacturer of drinks and cordials in the Southern Hemisphere. 

Angela and Craig had been on the lookout to buy a business in Dunedin for a few years. Craig’s background in plastics manufacturing meant a lot of the machinery and processes used at Wests were familiar to him, while Angela was eager to put her business and accounting studies into practice.

They sought advice from Moore Markhams Otago director Callum Hayde, Angela says. “He gave us a really great overview of the business – we knew its strengths and also the areas that would need work. We knew exactly what we were in for.”

Once the couple decided to take the plunge, Callum was instrumental in securing finance and dealing with the legal details, she says.

“We’d never bought or owned a business before; he made it really easy for us and we’ve had no regrets.”

Since the purchase last year, Callum has kept his finger on the pulse, checking in with the McFarlanes and answering any queries they’ve had.

“He’s helping us keep on top of it. For example, we had a reminder from him to start stock-taking. He also knows our strategic direction and has been really engaged.”  

Wests’ wholesale customers include Foodstuffs’ South Island stores, Night n’ Day convenience stores, food and beverage wholesaler Gilmours, dairies, petrol stations and bars. Retail customers can also purchase from the firm’s website and Dunedin store.   

Wests’ annual turnover grew 17 percent in the two years to March 2021, and the McFarlanes see potential for more growth.

They aim to increase Wests’ sales in the North Island, ideally through supermarkets. A new drink product with a different bottle design is also in the works.

Angela also plans to upgrade the website so customers can click through from a Google search to make purchases from the Wests’ site.

The company has seen growth in demand for syrups for milkshakes and slushies, Angela says. Sales of its sugar-free products, which are Keto diet-compatible and sold by Diabetes Christchurch, are also increasing.  Wests’ raspberry and lime cordial remains a huge seller amongst bars and pubs.

Wests had a strong summer, Angela says, with sales for December 2021 up 120 percent on the previous December, boosted by the warm weather.  “When it’s hot our customers sell a lot more milkshakes, and people want to drink more soda.”

The company’s five staff members are a huge asset. “Some have more than 40 years’ experience at Wests and have a huge wealth of knowledge.”

The business, which has occupied the same site on Bay View Road since 1914, holds fond memories for many locals. “We get a lot of people saying they remember coming in as children or coming in with their Nana for one of our famous pineapple and pear drinks.”

Wests’ previous owner has retired but still pops in to see how things are going, and is on call to help if needed, Angela says.

“There’s a strong loyalty from the community in Dunedin. We really appreciate that, and we see ourselves as the caretakers of a loved brand that’s been around for 146 years. We want to continue and grow that brand.” 


Wests is a beloved brand in Dunedin and one of the oldest firms in New Zealand.