Global agriculture business Camellia has bought the UK’s second largest apple grower for £15.7 million.
The new owners of Bardsley England will also loan the business £9.3 million for further investment.
Bardsley grows nearly 18,000 tonnes of fruit a year across 27 orchards, covering 2,100 acres in Kent which produce apples, pears, apricots, plums and grapes.
The company, which employs 550 staff during the peak picking season, also uses high-tech agriculture products, including micro-climate, leaf and pollinator sensors, in its orchards, before supplying major UK supermarkets.
London-listed Camellia said the deal will help improve its agriculture portfolio which focuses on avocados, macadamia nuts and blueberries – selling them to many of the same supermarkets that Bardsley supplies.
The loan will also support Bardsley’s packaging business and extending its orchards, Camellia added.
Its tea plantations in Kenya have performed better but Covid-19 restrictions have also restricted the company in the past year.
The deal with Bardsley includes a £12.7 million payment upfront and a further £3 million in July next year.
Bardsley made a loss before tax of £1.7 million in the year to March 31 with net assets of £8.3 million.
Tom Franks, chief executive of Camellia, said: “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 does both of these, and is located close to our HQ in Kent, which is the premier region for apple growing in the country.”