Chichester-based businesses Madestein (UK) Ltd and Fresh Willow Ltd are up for sale after entering administration last month

The businesses have 40 years' experience growing lettuce and herbs

The businesses have 40 years’ experience growing lettuce and herbs

British lettuce and herb growers Madestein (UK) Ltd and Fresh Willow Ltd have gone into administration after a substantial investment, combined with rising energy costs, inflationary pressures and labour challenges, left the companies unable to meet their financial obligations. 

Steve Baluchi and Philip Armstrong of specialist business advisory firm FRP were appointed as joint administrators on 11 April and are continuing to trade the companies and ensure continuity of supply to customers while they consider all options, including the sale of the businesses as a going concern.

FRP has instructed international real estate advisors, Savills, and specialist asset advisory company, SIA Group, to jointly handle the sale. Interested parties are encouraged to contact Ian Simpson at Savills or Stephen Readman at SIA Group.

Madestein and Fresh Willow, which are based on the edge of Chichester, specialise in glasshouse grown lettuce and herbs using advanced hydroponic growing processes for the UK’s major food retailers, foodservice companies and wholesale markets. They are the sole supplier of Curly Leaf Lettuce to a number of the UK’s largest supermarkets.

Combined, the businesses occupy a freehold site with 26,829 square metres of glasshouses, adjoining storage, packing and office accommodation, together with an extensive array of plant and machinery.

With over 40 years’ growing experience, the companies have established an excellent reputation in the market and strong customer book, says FRP. As a result of this success, the company invested substantial capital into promoting a proposal to develop a new glasshouse on a greenfield site, which unfortunately was not successful.

This investment, combined with the well-documented challenges facing the UK’s food production sector, such as rising energy costs, inflationary pressures and labour challenges, have left the companies unable to meet their financial obligations and they have entered into administration.

FRP’s Baluchi said: “Madestein is a well-established business with an excellent customer book and a deservedly strong reputation in the market. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the management team, it has not been able to navigate through the challenges facing the food production sector at this time. Our focus is now on continuing to operate the businesses to fulfil customer orders while we seek to identify new owners for the property and business.”