Orchard House Foods, a supplier of fresh prepared fruit, juices and jellies for more than 35 years for major retailers including Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Pret-a-Manger, has entered administration according to several reports.
The BBC and other news outlets noted that the Corby-based company, which was bought by private equity firm Elaghmore in 2021, said Orchard Foods had shuttered one of its main facilities in Gateshead, citing supply problems. The website JustFood, which broke the story, said many workers at that closed factory still have not received redundancy payments due to them from December. Some were forced to reach out for help to pay for Christmas food necessities and gifts.
JustFood noted in its report that Orchard House had reached out for financial help and was awaiting word to try to remain solvent. It said it had resolved supply problems, though the closure of Corby’s facility was a surprise to colleagues there.
Orchard House Foods, which was established in 1985 and sources thousands of products and turns them into single-serve fruit packs and medleys along with juices, posted losses of nearly 7 million pounds year over year from summer 2020 to 2021.
The Northampshire Telegraph reported that workers at its factory in Corby also haven’t been fully paid on time. The Telegraph said it received this statement from Orchard House: “We have had to take this action given the extremely challenging economic and trading conditions that have badly hit Orchard House Foods. The economic conditions have meant increased input prices and overheads, and this has significantly increased pressure on our cash position. As a result, the Directors have taken the difficult decision to file with the Courts a notice of intention to appoint an administrator.”
Orchard House Foods at one point had 1,000 workers. Some reports have stated that it is less than 500 after the closure of the Gateshead factory. In addition to working with Tesco and M&S, they also had partnered with Morrisons and Sainsbury’s.
At the time of its deal, and just coming out of the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, Elaghmore Investment Director Michael Rice said, “We are very proud that we will be part of Orchard House’s growth and development as we look beyond COVID-19. Orchard House is a flagship investment for Elaghmore, and our financial strength and operational expertise means we can help Orchard House prosper.”