Wolds Produce acquires potato seed business WM Quarrie

By James Ridler contact

- Last updated on GMT

(L to R): Graham Bennett, seed director of Wolds Produce; and seed managers Stuart Fox, Andrew Johnston and Bill Quarrie
(L to R): Graham Bennett, seed director of Wolds Produce; and seed managers Stuart Fox, Andrew Johnston and Bill Quarrie

Related tags: Snack, Ambient

Potato processor Wolds Produce has acquired independent potato seed business WM Quarrie for an undisclosed sum.

Wolds – which reportedly supplies 80% of all the crisps in the UK market, including Walkers, Seabrook and Tayto Group – acquired 26% of WM Quarrie last year. This latest deal saw Wolds take control of the remaining shareholding in the business, which completed on 29 June.

Seed director Graham Bennett said: “Following the acquisition of WM Quarrie, as well as investment in some key appointments over the last two years, in 2021 we will be supplying over 40,000 tonnes of potatoes into the crisping industry and have a seed business supplying over 15,000 tonnes, making us one of the largest independent seed suppliers in the UK.

“The addition of two such well-known and experienced seed professionals as Bill Quarrie and Stuart Fox​ [from WM Quarrie] will give another welcome boost to our specialist team.

Legal advice

The advisers to Wolds Produce on the deal included Alex Cooper of Leeds law firm Clarion who provided legal advice.

Cooper added: “During these times of uncertainty, it’s refreshing to see potato specialist Wolds Produce bucking the trend and completing an exciting acquisition – we wish them well for the future.”

Established in 2004 by managing director Simon Tootell and local farmer Simon Foster, Wolds Produce was set up as a potato trading business offering crops from the York area to packers.

The company has grown to become a major potato supplier into the crisping, chipping, ware, and seed industries across the whole of the UK.

Next step in Wolds’ journey

Tootell said the acquisition marked another major key step in Wolds’ growth, but noted the need to attract new talent into the industry in order for the business to continue being successful.

“We are now actively looking for up-and-coming people to join both our crisping and potato seed operations as the business continues to expand and move forward,” ​he added.

“These are challenging times with Brexit and Covid still a threat across all industries, but we reached a point where we needed to take a bit of a risk and it has really paid off. We are very excited about the next few years and hope that the vaccine programme brings things a bit closer to normality over the coming months.”  

Meanwhile, Canadian food group and Dairy Crest owner Saputo has acquired Yorkshire-based Wensleydale Dairy products in a deal worth £23m,​ as it continues its expansion into the UK.

Related topics: Ambient foods, Fresh produce, Operations

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