Food ingredients group buys cheese firm

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Founded in 1982, Tom Walker & Sons sources, cuts and packs cheese
Founded in 1982, Tom Walker & Sons sources, cuts and packs cheese

Related tags Dairy Finance

Food ingredients group HMS has acquired cheese cutter and packer Tom Walker & Sons.

HMS is the independently-owned parent company of food ingredient distributors Kent Foods, BFP, Henley Bridge Ingredients, Garrett Ingredients and Bailey’s of Portsmouth.

Founded in 1982, Tom Walker & Sons sources, cuts and packs cheese. It handles a wide range of varieties, including soft ripened, hard pressed and dairy-free alternatives, with the capabilities to transform these into diverse formats, including blocks, wedges, nets, variety packs and seasonal gifts. It specialises in own brand cheese for customers, including supermarkets and wholesalers, and co-packing services for cheese producers. 

The business will continue to operate as a stand-alone business from its factory and offices on the outskirts of Stockton-on-Tees. The business will be headed up by Russell Eley, who will take over from current managing director Peter Walker, who along with finance director Pauline Chapman, is retiring.

Norseland, Samworth Brothers, Parkam Food Group

Eley brings a wealth of experience working in cheese businesses as well as in management roles. Most recently Russell was head of commercial for UK retail at Norseland. Prior to this he held a variety of senior roles at places like Samworth Brothers and Parkam Food Group. 

Walker said: “After 38 years since my family founded Tom Walker & Sons, I, along with Pauline, have decided to finally retire.

"When planning this, the key consideration for us was to make sure the business passed to an owner who would further develop the business whilst preserving the facility and employees here in Thorpe Leazes. So we are handing the baton over to a carefully chosen partner who shares TWS’s values - flexibility, quality and customer focus. I’ve no doubt that HMS is a great home for Tom Walker & Sons."​ 

'Outstanding reputation'

Commenting on the acquisition, Iain Dalglish chairman of HMS said: “Tom Walker & Sons has an outstanding reputation and I’m delighted to welcome them into the HMS family. It will remain an independent business with Russell and his management team given the freedom needed to take it from strength-to-strength.

"Furthermore, as we’re not a cheese producer, Tom Walker & Sons will not be tied in any way and remains free to continue sourcing the best varieties from across the globe. I know that Russell has exciting plans for the future – various initiatives that will build an even better customer experience and stronger platform for partnerships. HMS is looking forward to supporting these with our considerable resources."​ 

Through subsidiaries, HMS is one of Europe’s largest food ingredient distributors and is based in Glasgow, Scotland. Founded in 1992, it has a turnover in excess of £210m and provides UK and European coverage through a network of six warehouses and 73 vehicles. 

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