Bardsley England

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  • The fifth generation farming business acquired the trading assets of Newmafruit
  • The acquisition was completed despite difficulties related to Covid-19 lockdown
  • Significant funding provided by specialist lender, Shawbrook Bank

Bardsley England, a 128-year-old fruit farming business, prepares for the next chapter in its long and successful history following a £5.7 million acquisition of a local competitor.

Kent-based Bardsley England – which has been trading since 1892 – acquired the assets of nearby competitor, Newmafruit, following the news its owner is exiting the industry and retiring.

Newmafruit, a neighbouring, family run business, owns over 1300 acres of fruit producing land.

As one of the UK’s leading fruit farming specialists, Bardsley England produces approximately 10,000 tonnes of fruit, with the acquisition of Newmafruit increasing this volume to 23,000 tonnes. This volume makes up a proportion of the 35,000 tonnes of fruit which is stored, graded packed and distributed through Bardsley England’s state of the art packhouse facility based at their HQ.

The fifth generation business will now operate across 820 hectares of productive orchards and agricultural land across Kent.

Ben Bardsley, Managing Director at Bardsley England, believes the acquisition places the business in prime position for expansion. He comments:

“Newmafruit is an excellent addition to the Bardsley England group and this is a great opportunity for the business. It will enable us to increase our offering of top and stone fruit to the UK market and therefore enhance the strategic partnerships and alliances we have already forged.

The significant funding provided by Shawbrook has not only secured our growth by allowing us to purchase and implement the trading assets of Newmafruit into the Bardsley England organisation but also enables us to focus on strengthening our position as one of the leading top fruit producers in the UK. Our future goals of a fully automated business are one step closer, with the assistance of this funding and plans to implement game changing technology into our business we will in time see full digitalisation across the entire supply chain, further cementing our offering to the market.

Given their focus on UK business and experience of lending to the agriculture and horticulture sector, Shawbrook has shown strength throughout this transaction. They could see the long-term benefits of the acquisition to us and acted quickly to get the funding facility in place and approved. They also worked to accelerated timescales while coping with the unprecedented challenges of lockdown, both issues that would have stumped other funders potentially in the mix.”

Bardsley England was introduced to Shawbrook by Castle Corporate Finance. Victoria Ansell, Director at Castle Corporate Finance, comments:

“We were delighted to work with Ben and the team at Bardsley England on this transformative transaction, and to be instrumental in facilitating the next stage of the business’ growth. Shawbrook Bank were supportive from the off, really getting behind the group’s potential, and we believe will be an excellent funding partner over the coming years. There were challenges along the way – not least due to lockdown – but everyone pulled together to get the deal done in an incredibly tight timescale. We are sure that Bardsley England have an exciting future ahead of them.”

Ben Bardsley said:

As the head of a fifth generation family business, the foundations of our organisation have always been built on relationships and forming strong partnerships to pave the way for the future. We came across Victoria Ansell from Castle Corporate Finance some time ago, when the idea of seeking funding was in its infancy. As opportunities arose, as with all areas of our business, the necessity of having the correct people in place who are aligned in our passion for growth and future potential was key. For us, Castle provided the perfect partner to carry out this appointment and have proven their merit every step of the way.”

The funding from Shawbrook provided funding for both the acquisition and ongoing working capital, incorporating a highly flexible profile to recognise the seasonal nature of the business and its cashflow.

Steven Munt, Director of Corporate Lending at Shawbrook Bank said:

“Due to the current circumstances caused by the emergence and spread of Coronavirus, this was a challenging transaction with several moving parts involving asset transfers, lease assignments and freehold property to be valued and charged.

However, these types of projects are exactly what we thrive on at Shawbrook. The fact that we had to navigate difficulties associated with Covid added to the satisfaction of successfully delivering this facility for Bardsley England.”

Since current MD Ben Bardsley took over the reins six years ago, the business has undergone a period of rapid growth. Significant milestones to achieve this have included forming an alliance with Belgian multinational Greenyard in 2016 and other considerable growth through the acquisition of Highland Court Farm in 2018 which added 9000 tonnes of growing capacity to the Bardsley England group.

“This is an exciting project for Bardsley England, which has been trading for almost 130 years. We believe this acquisition provides them with the potential to expand the business further and we are delighted to have played our part in what I’m sure will be a successful future.” 

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