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Gressingham makes play to move into game with acquisition of Yorkshire company

PUBLISHED: 16:37 31 May 2018 | UPDATED: 16:50 31 May 2018

Gressingham Foods' joint managing directors Geoffrey Buchanan, left, and William Buchanan. Picture: Jemma Watts.

Gressingham Foods' joint managing directors Geoffrey Buchanan, left, and William Buchanan. Picture: Jemma Watts.

Jemma Watts Photography

A Suffolk food producer has swooped in to rescue 25 jobs by buying a failed company out of administration.

Gressingham Game, part of the Woodbridge-based Gressingham Foods group, has completed a deal to buy the business and assets of Yorkshire Game 17 Limited.

The company, which also has a major site at Redgrave near Diss, now hopes to repeat with game the success it has had in making duck more popular and accessible for home cooks in recent years.

It is the only company in the world licensed to produce Gressingham Duck, a unique cross-breed of wild Mallard and Pekin with a distinctive taste and higher percentage of breast meat.

Under the terms of the deal, Gressingham Game has taken a new lease on premises at Brompton on Swale near Richmond, taken on all 25 employees, and acquired its retail brand Wild.

William Buchanan, co-owner and joint managing director, said: “Our aim with Gressingham Game is to build on the tremendous success we have enjoyed over the last 20 years introducing more and more people to the great taste of duck.”

In the past six years it has added three-step instructions to its duck products, and how-to instructional videos on its website – the most popular pages on the site – which together have led to more than 750,000 new households eating duck regularly.

It also launched a Bistro by Gressingham ready-meal range in 200 Waitrose stores last month, as part of its push to turn duck products into a premium “end-of-week, dine-in treat”, said the company.

James Sleight, partner at restructuring firm PKF Geoffrey Martin & Co, which oversaw the deal, said: “Most importantly, we’ve helped secure the jobs of a loyal workforce and allowed the business and brand to continue.”

Gressingham Foods can trace its history to 1971 when Green Label Foods was founded by Miriam and Maurice Buchanan at Debach in Suffolk. They began rearing and processing Gressingham Duck in 1989 and acquired the rights seven years later.

The founders’ sons William and Geoffrey Buchanan became joint managing directors in 2003 and the company changed its name to Gressingham Foods in 2006.

The company employs more than 550 people and in the year to the end of February 2017 turned over £106.8m.

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