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Orchard Valley Foods in Tenbury is sold to Norwegian buyer

Orchard Valley Foods, one of Tenbury’s biggest employers and a multi-award-winning business has been sold to a Scandinavian company.

Staff briefings in Tenbury and at its warehouse in Leominster have been taking place to explain the decision to sell out to Orkla Foods based in Oslo in Norway.

Orchard Valley has defied the economic downturn to expand and increase its market share.

The company manufactures and distributes ingredients for the bakery industry in the UK, Europe and also as far away as Australia.

The UK-based brands that it supplies include M&S as well as other well-known names.

To the year ending May 2016, Orchard Valley Foods had a turnover of almost £24 million – a remarkable story for a business in a small market town that began life as a home business.

While staff are finding out what the future holds, it has been confirmed that founder and chairman Mike Forrester stays on as business development director and managing director Cherry Blumberg continues in that role.

In a joint statement, they have moved to try to reassure staff about their future.

Mike Forrester says that some of the benefits of the sale are already being seen.

“We are already seeing the benefits of being part of the larger group. Orkla have companies like OVF in Sweden, Holland, Germany and others, all of whom bring new trading opportunities,” he said.

Mike Forrester who has been a strong critic of Brexit says that the decision to leave the EU was not a direct cause of the sale.
“But the weakness of the £ makes it better value for a non UK company to make a UK acquisition,” Mike Forrester said.
“We are conscious of potential more difficult trading through possible tariffs, levies and duties so having an established EU network should help us continue to trade smoothly over the coming years.”

Under the deal, the new owner takes an 85 per cent controlling shareholding but an option to buy the remaining 15 per cent in the future.

Orchard Valley Foods has put great effort into developing exports and was rewarded with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the field of International Trade in the 2016 90th birthday honours list.

The award recognised year on year growth in the export of confections, decorations and inclusions to almost 30 overseas markets.

This was achieved through harnessing a network of specialist distributors to bakery, ice cream, coffee shop and foodservice customers in several countries, as well as extending direct business with global food and confectionery companies initiated in the UK.

Most of the people who work for Orchard Valley Foods come from Tenbury and the Teme Valley. The company has also a warehouse at Clinton Road in Leominster to help it to supply a network of 700 UK and overseas customers.

Orka Foods is a supplier of ingredients in to the Nordic countries and other parts of Europe. Its particular speciality is supplying ice cream manufacturers.

Orchard Valley Foods has invested heavily in its facility in Burford and in staff development including undertaking a programme with the University of Worcester.

It has also got involved in supporting and sponsoring community activities in and around Tenbury.

Source: - 7 April 2017