Lifetime Achievement Award - Winner Brian Hibberd, Abbey View Produce

Brian Hibberd started his career at old Covent Garden learning his trade from the market's finest salesman as a junior until his father employed him as a salesman at George Coleman, one of the most established firms in the market.

Lifetime Achievement Award - Winner Brian Hibberd, Abbey View Produce
Lifetime Achievement Award - Winner Brian Hibberd, Abbey View Produce

Over the following years Brian helped establish the stand as the leader for products including mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers and, most notably, Lea Valley cucumbers.

With all the emerging supermarkets as customers, an opportunity was spotted to form a central collection point in the Lea Valley, close to a key customer's depot. Thus George Coleman Lea Valley was formed, looked after by his father.

Brian continued to work out of Covent Garden until his father passed away in 1982, and Brian felt he needed to concentrate on the blossoming business in the Lea Valley.

After surviving two arson attacks, the business relocated to Waltham Abbey and in conjunction with a name change to Abbey View Produce became a grower in its own right, as well as a marketer.

Today Abbey View Produce is a major supplier to retailers and boasts the largest contingent of UK cucumber growers, representing 35 per cent of all land given over to the crop. The group's turnover has reached in excess of £40m.

Brian maintains his strong links to the wholesale markets through Hibberd Imports, which he owns and runs. The company specialises in the import and sale of Canary Islands-grown tomatoes, a relationship that is now into its third generation.

After 50 years in the industry, he continues to market cucumbers - now for a third generation of UK growers. Those to whom he is marketing include one major customer that has recently exceeded 50 years of trading with Brian.


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