Berry Gardens News

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A Business Fit for the Future

2nd May 2018

Berry Gardens Grower Limited invited its grower members to attend its 46th Annual General Meeting.

The co-operative has once again enjoyed a successful year with turnover increasing by 8% to £346million.  “The main driver of our success last year is the performance of our UK grower owners – home grown produce sales grew in excess of 14% with  strawberries up 10% and cherry sales doubling”. But most importantly, and despite a period of market volatility in June and July, the clear majority of our 54 members have reported a good 2017 season. Furthermore, despite concerns about labour, growers remain in an expansive frame of mind”, says Alastair Brooks, Chairman of Berry Gardens Growers Ltd.

Alastair continues “2017 saw Berry Gardens make significant changes including appointing Jacqui Green as CEO of our marketing company, Berry Gardens Ltd, following Nicholas Marston’s retirement at Fruit Focus last year.  Since then the Society has approved a new five year strategic plan including ambitious sales and financial performance targets.  The strategy focusses on four key area – People, Innovation, Collaboration and Knowledge, or referred to within the business as PICK.

We continue working closing with Driscoll’s and during the import season have introduced a new premium strawberry variety from Iberia called Driscoll’s® Lara™.   In addition, despite challenging weather conditions we have also achieved increased availability of sweet blackberries during the winter which has enabled customers to enjoy the berries for more weeks than ever before”!

In addition planning permission was granted for a new 190,000 square foot state of the art office and packhouse development close to the company’s existing packhouse in Linton.  The new facility, which will be constructed in collaboration with Berry Gardens landlords Firmin Limited, will be completed towards the end of 2019 and accommodate all Berry Gardens operations in one location for the first time.  

 “These developments over the last twelve months will ensure that the Berry Gardens co-operative is fit for the future of the UK soft fruit business. Complemented by our unique structure we maintain a close connection to both consumers and our customers enabling us to meet the challenges of our dynamic, growing market. 

Alastair continues “In a challenging and competitive market environment the continued improvement in our financial position provides a strong base as we embark on the next stage of our business development.  The fact that we have been able to achieve this whilst improving rebates to our members, demonstrates the success of our business model.

Although early in the year, the 2018 season is off to a positive start with good volumes of glasshouse and greenhouse strawberry production well underway and tunnelled crops just starting.    In the next few weeks we expect raspberry and blackberry glasshouse production volumes to be readily available. 

Currently there is no sign of frost damage from the recent cold snap evident in our cherry orchards, with several orchards now in blossom and looking stunning!” concludes Alastair.

 

-Ends-

For more information please contact Janine Hatfield, jhatfield@berrygardens.co.uk,

01892 838800.

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