company history

Fresh Produce direct to you

Through continuous growth and development, the Nationwide Group has been able to record an increase in turnover from £2.5m in 1988 to £145m 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, the Sunday Times export award two years running, FPC Wholesale Supplier of the Year 2014, FPC Food-Service Supplier of the Year award 2015 and FPJ Charitable Initiative Award 2016.

To give you a flavour for what we do, here are a few statistics from our 2017-18 financial year. Two-thirds of the produce we bought in 2017-18 was from 72 countries outside the UK ranging from Canada to Costa Rica. The UK is still our biggest market in terms of sales accounting for around 80% of turnover. We sold produce to 26 countries outside the UK in 2017-18. We bought produce from a total of 779 suppliers. For the first time in our history we broke the thousand barrier – we sold produce to 1006 customers. We sold 193 different types of produce and other food ingredients. As a major supplier to the food-service sector we now find ourselves trading in products other than fresh produce i.e. Egg Noodles, Coconut Oil, Soy Sauce and Rice to name but a few. There can be hundreds of lines associated with just one type of produce such as potatoes – this gives you an idea of the complexity of our business. Our commendable accounts team based at Head Office in Southport process around 7,000 transactions per week. To cope with this we have a bespoke ERP system which not only manages back office functions but is also a vital trading tool that gives us a competitive advantage. We outsourced the programming of this system when we embarked on the project back in 2002. We have now bought this function in-house and have a strong team of IT staff involved in the crucial upkeep and maintenance of our network throughout Europe and further development of our ERP system.

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.

 1975 – Nationwide opens its doors

Established as Bernard O’Malley & Co in 1975, Nationwide started life as a Lancashire produce merchant based in Southport.

 1985 – name change

The name of the company was changed to Nationwide Produce PLC on 18th December 1985 to reflect our always-ambitious plans.

 1988 – Spalding office opens

The opening of the Spalding office in 1988 coincided with the establishment of Richmond Farms to focus on brand marketing to the catering and food-service sector.

1991 – Broadacre Foods established

1991 saw our first foray into production with the opening of a factory in Lincolnshire to produce chilled prepared vegetable ingredients for the fast-expanding ready meal sector.

2000 – Broadacre Foods sold to Lingarden

Broadacre was sold to a large Lincolnshire packer in 2000 with a deal for NWP to continue procurement.

2000 – joint venture in Rotterdam

In 2000, Nationwide established a joint-venture procurement and sales company based in Rotterdam.

2004 – Vitaal Europe is launched

The success of this joint-venture led us to open our own procurement, storage and trans-shipping operation in 2004 called Vitaal Europe in Poeldijk near Rotterdam. Based on one of the largest fresh produce industrial estates in Europe, we now operate from our own large warehouse with six loading docks and four cold-stores.

2006 – grower group formed

Richmond Farms formed a Grower Group in 2006 which now has 23 members and 37,000 tonnes of dedicated crops.

2007 – Vitaal Exotics division launched

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 another hub of the produce industry – Evesham.

January 2009 – Nationwide Espana is launched

2009 was a busy year. 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.

February 2009 – Vitaal Europe Emmen office opens

On 1st February 2009 the Group extended its presence in the Netherlands with a new office in Emmen near the German border. The aim of this venture is specifically exports – to increase sales into Europe, Scandinavia and the Baltic States.

March 2009 – Belfast warehouse & office opens

In March 2009 we opened a new warehouse office in Belfast to specialise in potatoes. Initially, Belfast concentrated on the bulk potato and bag chipping potato business into Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Over the last few years it has extended its range of products considerably as a result of which we have invested in cold-storage and distribution to further develop our business in Ireland.

January 2011 – Solvit Handling division launched

In 2011 we established Solvit Handling to provide handling not just for Vitaal Europe but for third-party companies also. Solvit is a separate division of the company and offers cold-storage, pallet-collation and order-picking services from our own warehouse in Poeldijk, NL.

September 2013 – Long Sutton opens

In September 2013 we made a £3m investment and started grading and packing onions at a 40,000 sq ft factory on 8 acres at Long Sutton, Lincs, UK.

November 2014 – Anglia Growing Partnership launched

In 2014 we transferred the Long Sutton production facility into Anglia Growing Partnership Ltd – a joint-venture between Nationwide and QV Foods. The AGP site now produces over a quarter of a million packs of onions per week.

May 2015 – Vitaal Fruit is launched

In May 2015 we launched our latest venture, Vitaal Fruit, from a new office in Kent. This wholly owned division of Nationwide will round off our supply portfolio by specialising in the direct importation of fruit from around the Globe.

2017 – New Spalding office opened

Due to expansion in early 2017, we purchased two offices in Spalding then joined them together to form a 400 sq mtr state-of-the-art trading facility. The office is based on the Pinchbeck Industrial Estate in Spalding which is home to a plethora of fresh produce and food manufacturing companies and one of the main hubs of the produce industry in the UK.

Jan 2018 – New Warehouse and office in Evehsam

We started business in Evesham back in 2007 with one guy in a small office selling just a few lines of imported exotic veg. We’ve grown the business considerably over the last few years and now have thirteen staff and offer a full range of UK and imported products mainly to the food-service, export and secondary-wholesale sectors. Our cold-storage and pallet-collation was being carried out by third-parties. Having built the business to a level that justifies bringing these operations in-house, we have invested £2m in an ex-Wellpak warehouse on the Vale Park estate and a small fleet of lorries and vans. This will become our central cold-storage, pallet-collations and distribution hub for the UK

Jan 2018 – New office & cold-storage facilities in Almeria

Like Evesham, our business in Spain has grown considerably over the last few years. We’ve outgrown the offices in El Ejido and need more warehouse space. The biggest greenhouse crop grower in the area is Godoy. The average size of greenhouse grower in the area is around 2 to 3 hectares – Godoy grows 200ha of greenhouse crops and has a grower group producing around a further 60ha for him. To cope with all this volume Godoy bought a huge 150,000 sq ft (14,000sq mtrs) warehouse recently in Almeria and offered us office space and the use of his warehouse for pallet-collation, labelling and cold-storage. He’s one of our biggest suppliers, we’re one of his biggest customers – it’s a healthy collaboration for both parties!