Camellia Plc, the global agriculture group, has purchased an 80% stake in the UK’s second-largest supplier of apples, Bardsley England, for £15.7m.Bardsley England is a major fruit farming business and the UK’s second-largest apple grower. The farming operation covers 850 hectares (2,100 acres) in Kent and includes 27 orchards growing apples, pears, cherries, plums and grapes as well as a large grading, packing and storage facility.
Bardsley grows nearly 18,000 tonnes of fruit a year and at peak season it employs 550 staff. Bardsley is an innovator in the use of agritech, employing technology such as micro-climate sensors to monitor for adverse weather and wet leaf sensors to give an early indication of pests and disease. It also uses a combination of trailer-mounted machine vision devices and remote satellite technology to improve yield predictions and crop management.
Tom Franks, CEO of Camellia, commented: “We have been looking for some time to increase our focus on agriculture where we have deep skills, and to increase our operations in the UK. Bardsley helps with both. It is located close to our HQ in Kent, which is the premier region for apple growing in the country. We look forward to partnering with the Bardsley family in the future”.
The consideration, which is being satisfied from existing resources, is payable as to £12.7m which was paid at completion with the balance of £3m deferred and payable by July 2022. Of the total consideration, approximately £9.7m is being used to subscribe for new shares in the business with the remainder being used to purchase existing shares.
Bardsley, which operates via a number of companies, reported revenue of £22.4m* for the year ended 31 March 2021 and recorded an unaudited loss before tax of £1.7m*. Gross assets of the business at that date were £26.2m* and net assets were £8.3m*. The effect of the acquisition on Camellia’s profit before tax for 2021 is expected to be broadly neutral before deal costs of £1.2m but is expected to be significantly earnings enhancing in 2022.
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* Bardsley England operates through a number of companies that have not previously been consolidated. The figures quoted in this announcement represent an unaudited proforma aggregation of the reported results of the individual entities for the year ended 31 March 2021. The underlying results of the entities are prepared under Financial Reporting Standard 102 and are not wholly comparable with Camellia’s accounting policies.