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Leading UK Apple Supplier to Cease Operations

Plans have been announced to gradually cease operations at Bardsley England, a leading apple supplier, due to sustained financial losses.

Acquiring an 80% stake in the Kent-based company in 2021 for £15.7 million, and later the remaining 20% for £1.7 million, Camellia had hoped for a profitable partnership. However, Bardsley has consistently underperformed, incurring significant losses annually, leading to an "unacceptable outcome" for Camellia.

The decision to wind down Bardsley's operations is expected to be completed by the end of June, during Camellia's second quarter. This follows the closure of Bardsley’s farming activities in West Kent and the River Farm packhouse in September.

Factors contributing to this decision include escalating labour costs and increased electricity and fuel prices, partly due to the conflict in Ukraine. Despite widespread food inflation, key retail customers have resisted substantial price increases, exacerbating the situation.

Camellia's efforts to mitigate these cost increases through restructuring in 2021 and early 2023 have had limited success.

The company acknowledges that the broader UK top fruit sector is facing challenges, with many producers scaling back or ceasing operations.

Despite these efforts, there appears to be no viable turnaround strategy that would render Bardsley a profitable venture.

Consequently, Camellia is now focused on maximising asset value realisation from Bardsley, moving away from the initial expectation that the acquisition would boost earnings in 2022.


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