Turner Parkinson’s corporate team are celebrating another deal completion, this time advising a family-owned Cheshire produce company acquire a major rival and become a £100m business and the country's largest grower and supplier of tomatoes.
APS Group, which has its headquarters in Middlewich, has acquired Wight Salads from Vitacress for an undisclosed sum. The deal creates an enlarged business with 265 acres of land with 108 acres of high-tech glasshouses for the production of tomatoes. APS previously known as A Pearson & Sons, was founded in 1949. It has enjoyed rapid growth over the past 10 years, driven by industry-leading service levels, expansion of the growing facilities and sophisticated crop yield maximisation. The combined business will supply tomatoes to several of the UK’s large multiple food retailers.
James Sheridan, David Easdown, David Hayes, Michael Taylor and Rachel McIlroy advised APS management, acknowledged that the deal required “an innovative structure to maintain the current shareholding base whilst doubling the size of APS. Mark and his team have worked hard and shown real entrepreneurial spirit to successfully conclude this deal. The team at Turner Parkinson have been working on a number of deals recently and this one demonstrated our ability to get an important deal for our client over the line."
Mark Pearson, managing director of APS, said: “The acquisition of WSL is a fantastic opportunity for APS. It allows us to create a British business of real scale, which is good for jobs and good for the industry. We can now focus on long term stability and growth, and work with our advisers and business partners to provide further investment and infrastructural improvements."
Acquiring WSL has added 66 acres of glasshouses across five sites at Arreton on the Isle of Wight with onsite packing facilities, together with a site at Chichester in West Sussex which houses WSL’s head office, including a 40,000 sq. ft. packhouse.
Peter Moug, managing director of WSL, said: "This deal between two like-minded innovative businesses enables us to create the leading tomato growing company in the UK. The infrastructure in WSL is to be further improved with the investment in new energy centres and growing facilities. I truly believe that this deal, which secures the long term future of the business, will be positively received by our motivated staff members and by our customers."
Tomatoes make up around 89% of the total output of the APS Group, but it also grows cucumbers, sweet peppers and chilli peppers too. Around a third of its fruits are grown in its own glasshouse complexes in Alderley Edge, Cheshire and Sandwich, Kent totalling 42 acres.
APS has been a pioneer of Combined Heat & Power (CHP) production within the horticultural industry. As well as its own CHP plants that generate its own electricity the company operates an anaerobic digestion waste management facility and ground water cooled packing facilities.