Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Fresh produce company grows greener with £3.5m loan

A Southport-based fresh produce company has expanded one of its warehouses in Evesham by 75% while introducing greener measures, thanks to support of a £3.5 million loan from Lloyds Bank.

Nationwide Produce is a family-owned business that started life in Lancashire as Bernard O’Malley & Sons almost 50 years ago. The business prides itself on its ability to work across the entire supply chain, growing, grading, packing, trading, importing, and exporting fresh produce including vegetables and fruits from around the world.

A rapidly growing customer base, and general market need for reliable suppliers, meant Nationwide Produce needed to expand to keep up with demand. The business approached Lloyds Bank, securing a £3.5 million funding package that was used to increase the space of its warehouse in Evesham by 75% from 32,000 sq ft to 56,000 sq ft. The expansion also saw the business’s pallet capacity rise from 900 to 2100, allowing for more stock to be stored.

The business is also committed to sustainability, making tangible steps on the road to net zero by investing in renewable power and switching to more environmentally friendly technology. To support these green ambitions, the firm used the funding to build five temperature-controlled chambers which offer an 84% reduction in global warming potential, meaning they can achieve the same cooling effect as previous chambers while emitting fewer greenhouse gases.

The new technology will improve cooling performance and increase energy efficiency in the business by up to 15%. It will also allow the company to store produce at the optimal temperature meaning the quality remains the very best for much longer.

Solar panels were also installed at the warehouse, growing its total renewable electricity offering by almost two thirds and bringing capacity up to 500kW across the company’s facilities.

To minimise waste that ends up in landfill, Nationwide Produce has also implemented a streamlined waste management process that utilises anaerobic digestion, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and removing landfill costs.

Overall, the new space has given Nationwide Produce the ability to hold more stock, and increase buying power meaning it can fulfil customer orders more efficiently, negotiate better deals with suppliers and improve its level of service.

Now, the business is planning to expand its product range to include frozen foods, as well as investing in new packing machinery to enhance its offerings and further increase its appeal to its customers.

Tim O’Malley, group Managing Director at Nationwide Produce Plc, said: “As a global importer, and UK and EU exporter, we are seeing a rise in demand for fresh produce from customers across all sectors of the market. Last year, our turnover was above pre-pandemic levels at £143 million and we’re already set to see a record-breaking turnover of £185 million this year as we meet demand for increased volume.

“The new warehouse space will be vital in helping maximise this opportunity for growth by helping us work more efficiently, improve and expand our product line, and ultimately, provide our customers with an even better service.

“We’re also committed to driving decarbonisation within the company and are proud to say 100% of the power needed to run our UK depots and offices is being produced from renewable energy sources, including our recently installed solar panels.”

Charity partnerships are also an important part of the business’s offering, and it helps to reduce waste by diverting surplus food to its partner, Fareshare. A massively important venture as it’s reported that 9.5 million tonnes of food is thrown away in the UK each year.

Over the course of its three-year partnership, the company has donated more than 500,000 meals to 3,825 charities across the UK, a total of 217 tonnes of surplus food.

John Csizmadia, relationship director at Lloyds Bank, said: “Nationwide Produce is a fantastic example of a business that puts innovation and its customers at the heart of everything is does. The new warehouse space will help the company to meet increased demand, while also expanding its offering and improving its sustainability efforts.

“We’re proud to be by the side of the business as it continues to grow and look forward to seeing the direction it takes for the future.”

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