Fruit growers confirm exciting collaborative vision for the future

by Tim Mudge

After months of speculation it was confirmed today that SGT, FGA and Norman Collett Ltd will be merging to form a fully integrated marketing and growing group to be called APL - Avalon Produce Ltd.

The need for a collaborative marketing structure joining together strong groups of growers with a respected, mature marketing desk has long been discussed within the English fruit industry.

Avalon Produce Limited MD Ashley Bernhard stated 'APL represents the most stable and sustainable way for good growers to prosper in the current trading climate. A business owned and managed by growers, providing that essential direct collaborative link between grower and retailer is the best route forward'.

The APL business is 50% owned by the SGT and FGA Producer Organisation Grower groups who will form half of the management board; led by Giles Cannon (SGT) Sean Charlton (on behalf of Norman Collett Growers) and James Smith (FGA). The other three board members will be Ashley Bernhard, Dan Barker and Chris Browning representing the commercial arm of the partnership, Andy Sadler will be the Chairman of the board.

The new structure will deliver significant improvements in operating efficiency; by removing duplication, delivering greater scale in volume and improving focus on customer requirements. Avalon Produce Limited’s grower members include the best in the industry, who will be better supported through improved management of costs, enabling investment in further varietal and technological advances. The new business is viewed by its members as the logical progression towards a collaborative marketing position which will benefit growers, retailers and ultimately consumers.

Negotiations for the new business began just eight months ago with a view to a three year development and delivery programme. During discussions it quickly became clear that all parties were in agreement and that the proposed structure was essential for the future of the sector; with the full support and endorsement of all retail partners Avalon Produce Limited will begin trading with immediate effect for the 2015/16 season.