Jackson's hoping buyout delivers
HULL firm William Jackson Food Group (WJFG) is poised for further growth after snapping up organic food delivery company Abel & Cole.
The group, which also owns Aunt Bessie's, Jackson's Bakery, Hazeldene Foods and Parripak Foods, yesterday acquired 100 per cent of the share capital of Abel & Cole.
Chief executive Norman Soutar said: "We are a 160-year-old family business with strong values and are delighted to be welcoming Abel & Cole, a business we have admired for many years, to our family."
WJFG is a family business started by the current chairman's great-great-grandfather in 1851.
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Today, it employs almost 2,000 people at various sites around the UK.
The deal marks a return to retail for WJFG, which sold its portfolio of convenience stores to Sainsbury's in 2004.
Mr Soutar said: "Abel & Cole has some exciting plans for the future and now they are part of the William Jackson Food Group we can provide support to help them realise their ambitions."
Abel & Cole, which is famous for its organic veg box delivery scheme, was founded almost 25 years ago by Keith Abel.
Turning his back on the world of law, the former barrister began delivering organic potatoes in South London thanks to support from farmers, friends and family.
Today, Abel & Cole delivers a wide range of groceries to 50,000 homes across the country every week.
The company employs 450 staff and works with a network of 150 independent farmers and makers.
Abel & Cole was first put on the market in January last year.
PwC was appointed to handle the sale, and since then Morrisons, Ocado and The Co-op have all been named as potential buyers.
Yesterday Abel said it was delighted to join WJFG, which is described as a "robust family business with values similar to our own".
Chairman and founderKeith Abel said: "This is great news for us. We're excited about the future.
"With our new partners, we have the security and stability we need to grow and flourish.
"By joining a family business, which respects and understands us, we can carry on delivering the best veg boxes imaginable to our wonderful customers."
Abel & Cole will be run autonomously with its existing management in place.