Alan Firmin orchards stay in production despite unexpected closure of top fruit business

Alan Firmin's award-winning orchards will remain in production even though the 91-year-old, family-run firm has unexpectedly shut down its top fruit business.

Worldwide Fruit grower Robert Pascall, of Alan Firmin's neighbouring Clock House Farm, is taking over the majority of its orchards — renting the Kent-based company's land and facilities.

Mid-Kent Growers, the producer organisation to which Alan Firmin belonged, will continue to manage the farm's Rubens orchards because its marketing organisation Norman Collett owns the fruit's growing rights.

English Apples & Pears chief executive Adrian Barlow said: "From the industry's point of view it's important that these orchards continue to produce apples."

Alan Firmin representative Michael Firmin said: "It [the closure] was a private decision. We are involved in other business areas such as lorries (transportation) and property, and those are what we want to concentrate on in the future."

The past decade has seen hundreds of thousands of pounds ploughed into the firm's orchards — £350,000 in new plantings.

For more on this story see this week's edition of Grower (14 August).


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