Name of business:
Nationwide Produce PLC
International fresh marketers of fresh fruit and vegetables
Offices in Southport, Spalding and Evesham, The Netherlands and Spain
how we can help you
If you want your business to grow, the starting point is self analysis, to understand its current position, then – with advice - you can decide which direction to take. We have helped many businesses to grow and develop, and we’d be delighted to help you! These are some of the questions you need to consider:
- How is the business performing?
- How to plan for growth
- Your business structure
- Your products and services
- Your operations, systems, management and staffing
- Your financial forecasts
- How to obtain funding?
this produce business is good for growth!
CELEBRITY chef Jamie Oliver has the nation hooked on ‘five a day’ and if, like the firm Nationwide Produce PLC, you are in the produce business this has to be a good for growth!
Nationwide Produce PLC was started in Southport in 1975 by Bernard O’Malley and today it is one of the largest produce companies in the UK. The success of Nationwide is proof that family businesses can work very well indeed! Bernard is still the figurehead and chairman of the family company. Sons Patrick and Anthony are based in the Southport HQ, while Tim is based in Spalding, the hub of the UK produce industry. The firm’s third UK base is in Evesham. This distribution ensures that supplies are available from the north, south and centre of the country.
“We have been busy over the past year opening up new divisions and ventures in Spain and Holland and Peter has given us advice on the structure and set-up. We have really valued his input.”
The firm deals in 167 different types of produce ranging from parsnips to pakchoi. It has 577 customers in 13 countries ranging from Poland to Panama. An impressive 64 percent of the produce is bought from the UK; 13 percent from Holland and the rest from around the world. Nationwide supplies caterers, supermarkets, processing companies, and export and wholesale markets. Nationwide even manages to sell potatoes to the Irish. As director Patrick O’Malley said: “Lincolnshire potatoes are drier and fry well for chips. Potatoes grown in the north of England and Ireland are too wet.”
The most popular lines are potatoes, carrots and onions. But the vagaries of the British weather mean that these staples are not available to customers all the year round. The restaurant trade and supermarket customers also demand a wide choice of produce 52 weeks a year. For this reason Nationwide set up its own procurement, storage and trans-shipping operation, Vitaal, in 2004 close to Rotterdam, the hub of the European produce industry. This enabled Nationwide to supply the perfectly formed Dutch cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes that the customer loves. Nationwide Italia was set up in 2005 so that imports of kiwi fruit, radishes and rocket from the sunnier climes of Southern Italy and Sicily were always available for customers.
Nationwide widened its net still further in 2009, setting up of an office in Almeria in the far south of Spain. As Patrick said: “With 330 days of sunshine a year, salad lines which cannot be grown in the UK, Holland or even Italy are available all year round.” The new year also saw the setting up of a second operation in Holland which will lead to further exports to Eastern Europe and Russia.
Keeping the customer happy is what it is all about. If carrots are not available in the UK because a wet summer has led to a short growing season, Nationwide will make sure supplies are procured from China or Israel. Patrick explains: “Because we have such a strong presence in every sector of the produce industry, we are able to offer our growers a whole crop marketing service and our customers a full range of produce throughout the year.”
“Mike and I speak several times a week and discuss all of the key decisions that need to be taken for the business to continue to perform well and grow. This can involve anything from discussion of the company’s monthly trading performance to tax planning issues.”
Peter Johnson, Partner, Cassons
The recession has had a silver lining for Nationwide. The weakness of the pound has made exports of British produce more competitive. Nationwide has also being doing brisk trade with retail discounters such as Aldi and Netto. Nationwide’s supply of ‘value range’ produce to Tesco and budget lines to Morrisons are selling well. This has more than compensated for the predictable slump in demand for more exotic salad garnish from restaurants.
Nationwide has a close relationship with Cassons’ partner Peter Johnson. Patrick says: “Peter does all the audit work for the company. As we have been busy opening up new ventures in Spain and Holland this year we have been on to Peter for advice on structure and set-up.”
Peter explained: “Over the past year we have been closely involved in a couple of strategic projects which have helped Nationwide grow their business. We advised them on a company re-organisation which has enabled them to have a business structure that is better suited for the company’s future development.
“We have also advised on the integration of the new overseas venture into the UK operation.”
Peter also has a very strong working relationship with Mike Murray, Nationwide’s Finance Director. He explained: “Mike and I speak several times a week and discuss all of the key decisions that need to be taken for the business to continue to perform well and grow. This can involve anything from discussion of the company’s monthly trading performance to tax planning issues.”
It certainly appears that when it comes to growing the business Nationwide knows its onions as well as everything else from alfalfa to yams!