Fruit firm snaps up neighbouring strawberry-growing business
PUBLISHED: 15:38 10 September 2020 | UPDATED: 16:22 10 September 2020
A family fruit growing business on the Suffolk/Essex border has snapped up a neighbouring nursery business to create six hectares of glasshouse production – with potential for more.
Third generation family business Boxford (Suffolk) Farms – which operates in the Dedham Vale and Stour Valley and is based at Boxford near Sudbury – has acquired Wallings Nursery Ltd for an undisclosed sum.
Boxford’s Home Farm site lies next to Wallings in Lawford, Essex. Boxford also owns packing and marketing subsidiary Peake Fruit, which packs and distributes Wallings fruit.
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Boxford, an £11.8m turnover business employing 30 permanent and 260 seasonal workers, grows 160 tonnes of raspberries, as well as blueberries, 40 varieties of apple, morello cherries, strawberries, rhubarb and asparagus.
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The Boxford Group of companies – which includes Boxford Farms, Peake Fruit and Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Golf & Spa – was founded by Devora Peake and husband Bill. They launched Copella apple juice in 1969, before selling it on to Tropicana UK in 1997, and two championship golf courses in the 1970s later developed into the hotel business.
Second generation siblings Jonathan, Susanna, Tamara and Carmella, and third generation Robert Rendall are actively involved in running the businesses which employ up to 450 staff.
£1.7m turnover Wallings, which was established in 1999, produces glasshouse strawberries exclusively for Sainsburys via Berry Gardens and has scooped awards for growing and innovation. Four of its six staff will transfer, with two due to retire.
Group director Robert Rendall said the combination of the two neighbouring businesses takes Boxford Farming to more than six hectares of glasshouse production, with planning permission for a further two hectares. “This is in addition to our tunnelled soft fruit and netted orchard fruit crops. We are so excited about the future growth opportunities that this opens up for both businesses through combined projects.”
Farms director Robert England said: “I am really looking forward to working with Will, Rado and the Wallings team, learning from each other to create a truly exceptional soft fruit enterprise. I am also happy to announce that this acquisition coincides with the recruitment of Jon Marcar, previously of Berry Gardens, to head up agronomy and propagation for the farming group.” Boxford says it plans to increase production to meet growing demand.
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