Founded in 1892, the family business Bardsley England – headquartered at River Farm’s head office in Boughton Monchelsea – has grown over five generations and now includes farms near Maidstone, Chartham and Bridge near Canterbury.
New owners Camellia, based in Linton, near Maidstone, will also loan the company £ 9.3million for other investments.
Bardsley grows nearly 18,000 tonnes of fruit a year in 27 orchards covering 2,100 acres in Kent, producing apples, pears, apricots, plums and grapes for UK supermarkets and employing 550 people during peak season. harvests.
The company is also an innovator in the use of agritech, using technologies such as microclimate sensors to monitor inclement weather and wet leaf sensors to give early indication of pests and diseases.
It also uses a combination of trailer-mounted machine vision devices and remote satellite technology to improve yield forecasting and crop management.
In addition to strengthening Bardsley’s balance sheet, Camellia’s investment will support growth and allow the company to invest more in the development of its packaging operations and the expansion of its orchards.
PA reports that Camellia recently announced that she will suffer a £ 1million cut in operating profit this year due to poor weather conditions in northern India and Bangladesh where she grows tea.
Its tea plantations in Kenya have performed better, but Covid-19 restrictions have also restricted the business in the past year.
The deal with Bardsley includes an upfront payment of £ 12.7million and an additional £ 3million in July next year.
Bardsley recorded a pre-tax loss of £ 1.7million as of March 31 with net assets of £ 8.3million.
Tom Franks, Managing Director of Camellia, said: “We have been looking for some time to focus more on agriculture where we have deep skills, and to expand our UK operations. Bardsley helps with both. It is located close to our head office in Kent, which is the leading apple growing region in the country. We look forward to partnering with the Bardsley family in the future.
A statement from Bardsley added: ‘Bardsley England has raised £ 18.9million in growth capital to maintain our investment in the packing plant and farm to ensure the company is at the forefront industry and continues to spearhead development and technology for future growth.
“The Bardsley family also took this opportunity to simplify the ownership structure by reducing their stake in the business. Ben Bardsley remains a major shareholder and CEO of Bardsley England for the foreseeable future.
“We are motivated for what lies ahead and are delighted to have formed a strategic partnership with Camellia Plc, a company that has an aligned appreciation of global food production and supply. “
Camelia says the deal will help diversify its product and geographic portfolio, and give Bardsley access to a broader customer base and at a cost of
He also says Bardsley packing station operations will help Camellia’s avocado, macadamia and blueberry businesses.
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