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Kent topfruit business Bardsley England has appointed Antony Yousefian as its Ag-tech Director to head a newly formed tech division in the company.

Yousefian joins the company from British agri-tech firm 30MHz, and will lead Bardsley England’s plans to fully automate and transform through the complete digitalisation of its business.

The company said Yousefian and his new team “plan to break the mould” by working closely with start-ups and partnering with industry leaders in technological innovation.

Ben Bardsley, group managing director, said: “I am delighted to welcome Antony into our business. He brings a wealth of knowledge, unrivalled energy and a great vision for where we can make a real difference in this fantastic industry. Innovation is the heartbeat of our business and this appointment further strengths our 2030 vision.”

Yousefian’s appointment marks what is believed to be the first Ag-tech Director role for growers in the horticulture industry, a sign of the paradigm shift in the fresh produce industry as robotics and automation become increasingly vital to operations.

Bardsley England stated that the new Ag-tech division will sit “at the epicentre of all activities” and entails a “complete change of mindset” for the company.

The new Ag-tech division follows Bardsley England’s recent acquisition of fellow Kent growers Newmafruit.

The deal, agreed on January 28, saw two of the UK’s biggest topfruit producers come together, with Bardsley England taking on 1,300 acres of production from Newmafruit.