Fresh produce supplier Stubbins Food Partnerships has gone into administration, with the loss of 50 jobs.
Administrators BDO LLP were called in to the Waltham Cross-based tomato specialist, as well as the firm’s logistics division Continental Express Transport, on 11 January. The two businesses ceased to trade the same day and some 50 employees were made redundant.
Joint administrators Martha Thompson and Matthew Tait confirmed to FPJ that a sale of the assets is now being sought.
Thompson said: “Unfortunately the economic climate and difficult trading conditions significantly affected the business. The joint administrators are taking all necessary steps to mitigate losses to customers and, going forward, will seek to maximise recoveries for the benefit of all creditors.”
Stubbins Marketing ranked 42nd in the first FPJ Big 50 Companies report in December 2014 with a turnover of £53.8m, but following a management buyout the business of Stubbins Marketing was transferred to Stubbins Food Partnerships and Stubbins Growing Partnerships in 2016. The new management also created Stubbins Logistic Parnerships to handle their logistics operations.
In its latest accounts, for the period to 29 September 2017, Stubbins Food Partnerships posted a turnover of £20.4m, with directors pointing to a number of setbacks affecting the business, namely the expiration of a packing contract and the loss of a premium tomato contract. Continental Express had a turnover of £12.8m in the same period, and a pre-tax profit of £561,666.
Stubbins Growing Partnerships went into administration on 18 December and ceased trading immediately.
The owners of Stubbins Marketing, which is back under the control of former managing director Mario Difrancesco and supported by finance director Stephen Randall, have emphasised their business is separate and continues to trade. The firm owns nurseries in Waltham Abbey in Essex and Fen Drayton in Cambridgeshire, and both will be supplying supermarkets with UK-grown salad in 2019.
In a statement to FPJ, the company added: "An experienced new manager has been recruited for the Fen Drayton site, as part of the companies strategy of returning to its roots of growing."