16 March 1999
Merger creates UK’s biggest spud firm

By Robert Harris

AFTER almost a year of negotiations, two of the countrys leading potato firms will finally merge early next month to form the UKs biggest potato supplier.

Greenvale Produce, the largest independent pre-pack supplier to multiple retailers, will combine with the Anglian Produce cooperative to form Greenvale AP plc.

Each company has a grower base of about 8100ha (20,000 acres), producing a combined total of more than 800,000t of potatoes a year, or 12% of UK production.

Provisional agreements between the two companies were signed 10 months ago, and the deal was initially expected to have been finalised last June.

But delays set in because of the legal complexities of combining a co-op with a recently formed management buyout company in the most tax-efficient way.

To prepare for the merger, Anglian Produce has now been converted into a limited company, and its farmer-members have become shareholders.

A 96% majority of members voted to swap their shares for new ones in Greenvale Produce, which was recently converted to a public limited company.

Stuart Smith, the managing director of Anglian Produce, described the merger as a major step forward for the cooperatives 228 farmer-members.

“Being part of a larger business will give us huge breadth and depth,” he said.

Alan Owens, managing director of Greenvale, said: “Customers will benefit from an expanded, improved procurement base for their product requirements.”

The new company, which is expected to have a turnover in excess of £150 million, will have over 650 staff on 13 sites across the UK.

The final stage in the merger will be the official name change to Greenvale AP, expected to take place on April 7.