Kent-based soft fruit cooperative Berry Gardens has reported a 3.8 per cent increase in turnover last year thanks to greater UK crop production.
The figures were revealed during a virtual AGM held earlier in August and came about during a year of significant change and development for the Maidstone-based business.
“The success in sales in 2019 can be attributed to the success of our UK growers – home-grown fruit sales growth exceeded that of imported fruit,” explained Robin Walker, who was appointed chairman of Berry Gardens Growers in May. “This was helped by good weather conditions, but also combined with investments from our grower owners to drive innovation to help support season extension and maximise quality of our British soft fruit.”
Other developments in 2019 included the opening of the company’s new 150,000 sq. ft head office and packhouse and the appointment of Rob Harrison as Commercial Director. Nick Allen was appointed as the new Chief Executive earlier this year.
However, Walker explained that, like other businesses, Berry Gardens has been affected by the Covid pandemic. “A predominantly office-based workforce was forced to work virtually, new health and safety measures in the BGP and on farms as a result of social distancing, plus continued concern about the availability of labour as a result of Brexit,” he said. “However, the continued resilience of the business and our members, support from local communities and the ‘Pick For Britain’ campaign has meant, for the most part, we have managed to continue to meet consumer demand for fresh, nutritious, premium fruit despite the challenges of Covid-19.”
Photo caption: Berry Gardens Chairman Robin Walker
Photo source: Berry Gardens