Greenery UK seals John Baarda buyout

Tomato grower directors step down after accepting deal in best interests of staff and creditors.

John Baarda, the UK's second largest tomato grower, has been bought out by Greenery UK, the British arm of Dutch grower-owned cooperative the Greenery.

The troubled grower's board of directors "has accepted financing terms after it became clear doing so was in the best interest of John Baarda, the employees and the creditors", Greenery UK said in a statement.

John Baarda is based in Billingham, North Yorkshire. Directors including managing director David Baarda, chairman Andrew Lesser and finance director Adrian Burrows have resigned, although David Baarda is being retained as a consultant during the firm's transitional period.

"Given the very difficult circumstances, this is certainly the right way forward for the company," said Baarda.

Nigel Bartle, general manager of Cornerways Nursery in Wissington, Suffolk, and chairman of the British Tomato Growers Association, has been named equity partner. He will take over as managing director from next month. Commercial manager Paul Simmonds will take over Bartle's position at Cornerways.

Explaining Greenery UK's strategy, managing director Kevin Doran said: "Across Europe we are involved in local-for-local partnerships with domestic producers. This is consistent with that posture, so with the support of producer partners we elected to step in with the required financing."

Family business

The Baarda family business has been growing tomatoes in East Yorkshire for more than 60 years and has been a major tomato supplier to Morrisons since 2003.

It entered a marketing agreement with Greenery UK two years ago. John Baarda, the Greenery and Cornerways are all members of the Dutch-based grower cooperative Coforta.


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