Berry Gardens has announced ambitious plans to double the size of the business by the mid-2020s in an expansion that would see its turnover leap to around £700 million.
The UK’s biggest berry and stonefruit supplier has profited from booming demand for soft fruit in recent years, with the health trend, improved varieties and demand for British-grown produce all contributing to an increase in sales.
Now, with work on a new head office and state-of-the-art packing facility underway, the grower-owned organisation has said it hopes to drastically increase its turnover, which rose eight per cent to £346m in the company's most recent accounts.
This is part of a strategic plan launched in 2017 dubbed ‘Pick’, which is focused on People, Innovation, Collaboration and Knowledge.
“We’ve got some really ambitious growth plans, and maybe Brexit might have a big influence on it, but we’re looking to double the size of the business by the mid-2020s,” said chief executive Jacqui Green at FPJ Live, which was held at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.
As the trend for healthy snacking gathers pace, she hopes to achieve this not by stealing growth from Berry Gardens’ soft fruit competitors but by getting shoppers to buy more soft fruit and less confectionary.
“I’m really happy to sit here as part of the fresh produce industry and not the Swiss chocolate manufacturers’ association,” she said. “Health is absolutely huge and this growth is there to be tapped into.
“This isn’t about me stealing growth from my competitor, it’s about me stealing market share from Mars, crisps, sugary drinks and fast food. It’s there for all of us to tap into.”
As well as studying consumption and penetration in the fresh produce market, Green said Berry Gardens has started to look more at the demographics of its consumers, seeing opportunities to attract new shoppers to the berry category.
“We’ve got quite a polarised demographic,” said Green. “A lot of our consumers are either mothers giving our product to very small children, or the older ‘silver surfer’ kind of generation.
“We’ve got this huge pocket of people in the middle who are really health conscious and the good news for a British-owned organisation like ours is that they’re quite environmentally aware and want to do the right thing. Getting product where they are is the final hurdle. It’s an exciting opportunity but it isn’t straightforward.”
Commenting on the company’s new facilities, which are set for completion by the end of 2019, Green added: “It’s always an interesting one when you’re sat looking at a big new facility being built when something as immense as Brexit is imminent but I genuinely believe that people who don’t have a plan in times of adversity are the ones who fail.
“We have outgrown our current offices and packhouse facilities so it was always imminent that we need to make new provisions. We’ve specifically designed a building with very long lines so we can add lots of bells and whistles as we go along.”
The 190,000 sq ft development near Linton, Kent will house all of Berry Gardens’ operations on the same site for the first time.