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BGF backs UK’s largest tomato producer

Investment news
20.12.2017.

Family-owned APS Group, the UK’s largest tomato grower, has secured funding from BGF to support its continued expansion. Headquartered in Cheshire, APS plans to build a new glasshouse to extend capacity at existing sites and make further investments into industry leading, innovative technologies and automation to optimise operational efficiencies.

APS currently manages 56 hectares of glasshouses and operates several packhouses across sites in Alderley Edge, Middlewich, Kent, West Sussex, Teesside, East Yorkshire and the Isle of Wight. More than 700 people are employed across the group which produces 500 million tomatoes per year using the best traditional and modern growing techniques to grow a range of high quality tomato varieties in the most environmentally friendly way possible.

Founded in 1949 by Albert and Hilda Pearson, APS Group is now under the stewardship of CEO Mark Pearson alongside Philip Pearson and several other members of the Pearson family and senior management team.

As a long-standing supplier to the major supermarkets in the UK, the business has been well-placed to respond to a significant increase in demand for food produce grown in Britain in recent years. The company has a strong heritage of innovation having delivered a number of UK and worldwide firsts in the horticultural industry.

Mark Pearson, CEO said: “During the past decade we have invested heavily into our greenhouse infrastructure, combined heat and power plants and packhouse automation. This has been well received by our customers and there is an opportunity to further expand our capacity and increase supply whilst retaining our quality focus.

“BGF has been flexible in its approach to providing this funding. The investment allows us to implement our growth projects at the same time as keeping control of the business. As a family business that was important to us, and we are looking forward to working with the BGF team.”

The investment into APS Group, which makes BGF a minority partner in the business, was led by BGF’s Matt Widdall, Rhys Davenport and Paul Dolyniuk.

BGF’s Matt Widdall, who will join the board of APS Group, said: “The Pearson family has a passion for growing quality produce and providing a first-class service to its customers, which has served the business well for close to 70 years. We are delighted to be supporting their continued growth with this funding, backing another forward thinking and innovative family business in the UK.”

APS was advised by Neil Mitchell and Alex Wilson of Rickitt Mitchell.

Rickitt Mitchell Partner, Neil Mitchell said: “We have worked with Mark Pearson and the APS team for many years, helping to develop the group through targeted acquisitions and fundraisings.  The investment by BGF will continue to help deliver a fantastic growth story for APS and the Pearson family. BGF have demonstrated that they are a strong partner for the business, understanding the requirements and dynamics of a fast-growing family business with exciting strategic growth plans ahead.”

Banking facilities have been provided by RBS England and Wales, with a team including John Radcliffe, Stuart Hamnett and Kevin Steven, along with Rick Sealey and Catherine Donnelly from Gateley who provided legal advice for RBS.

James Sheridan, Adrian Rogers and David Hayes from Turner Parkinson provided legal advice to APS.

Jonathan Robinson and Will Munday from DWF provided legal advice to BGF.

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