“My wife, Joan, and I are both from Lancashire farming families. We set up the company together in 1975 from a small room at our home in Southport. Our commitment to quality and service back then was unshakeable - just as it is now. It drives us on constantly to invest in new systems, and above all, people. We’re a people business and we never lose sight of that – our staff are our key asset.”
Established as Bernard O'Malley & Co in 1975, Nationwide started life as a Lancashire produce merchant based in Southport; today, it is one of the largest produce companies in the UK. The opening of the Spalding office in 1988 coincided with a change of name to Nationwide Produce PLC.
In 1999 two major strategic developments took place which ensured the continued growth of the Nationwide Group. Firstly, Richmond Farms was established with the objective being to focus on brand marketing to the catering and food-service sectors. Richmond Farms also formed a Grower Group in 2006 which now has 23 members and 37,000 tonnes of dedicated crops - our own 340 acre farming operation is part of this group.
Also in 1999, Nationwide established a joint-venture procurement and sales company based in Rotterdam. The success of this joint-venture led us to open our own procurement, storage and trans-shipping operation in 2004 called Vitaal, based in De Lier near Rotterdam. Our Dutch business and Richmond Farms have been an unqualified success, recording double-digit growth, year on year.
In 2007 Nationwide established an exotics division to serve the growing demand for exotic produce in the food-service and catering sectors. This division is based at a new office in another hub of the produce industry - Evesham.
The Group's reach was extended to Southern Europe when Nationwide España was established on 1st January 2009. Nationwide España is based near El Ejido in the fertile growing province of Almeria, Spain. The main focus for this new division of Nationwide is export from Spain to the UK and continental Europe.
On 1st February 2009, the Group extended its presence in the Netherlands with a new office in Emmen in the north of the country. The aim of this venture is specifically exports – to increase sales to Europe, Scandinavia and the Baltic States.
In March 2009 we opened two new offices to specialise in potatoes which combined are forecast to bolster our annual potato volume by around 25,000 tonnes. The Belfast office has considerably increased our bag chipping and bulk potato business into Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The new Shrewsbury office will strengthen our procurement of potatoes from the Shrops, Staffs, Warks and Herefordshire area.
In 2010 we established our own farming operation growing 340 acres of root crops in Lancashire, Norfolk, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire as part of the Richmond Farms grower group.
In 2011 we established Solan Europe as a separate division of the company which specialises in supplying the retail/packing sectors of the market, offering the full range of fresh produce but in particular pre-packed peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers. The main activity of Solan Europe is to buy ungraded raw material in plastic trays direct from growers - this product will then be size & quality graded and pre-packed at our packing facility in Poeldijk.
Through continuous growth and development, the Nationwide Group has been able to record increased turnover from €2.5m in 1988 to €100m currently. Along the way the Group has won many accolades including the Independent newspaper award three years running as one of the fastest growing companies in the UK.
Today Nationwide is one of the largest and most diverse produce companies in the UK with interests in all sectors of the fresh produce industry. The company continues to expand its operations and is constantly looking for new opportunities and further growth.