The field vegetable sector has been surprised by the announcement that one of the country’s best-known names in carrot production, Alan Bartlett & Sons, will cease operations this summer.
The Chatteris-based company said it had made the “extremely difficult decision” to close its business in June this year, affecting 230 jobs and farmers who supply land in East Anglia.
Director Toby Bartlett said in a statement, “We have made the extremely difficult decision to close our business at the end of the season in June 2021. All 230 employees were advised on Monday, 15 February and are now going through collective consultation. Our focus remains on supporting them over the coming months and doing everything we can to help find alternative employment in the area.”
The company, which was demerged from the larger Albert Bartlett group in 2009 is a highly regarded carrot producer in the UK and the British Carrot Growers Association said its closure would be a loss to the industry.
The company’s accounts for the year ending 31 May 2019 showed a turnover of £38 million with a gross profit of £12.5 million, operating profits of £887,000 and net profit of £420,000.
NFU Cambridgeshire county adviser Hannah Padfield commented, “This will impact on growers who let land to the company for carrot and parsnip production, not just in the local area but further afield into Norfolk and Suffolk as well. They will have business decisions to make as to their cropping for the next growing season and beyond.”
Although official reasons for the closure of the business have not been disclosed, local reports speculate that the loss of a major supermarket contract had been a key factor.