Shawbrook Bank to provide UK’s largest tomato supplier with £25m funding package

Specialist SME lender Shawbrook Bank has successfully completed its largest-ever working capital transaction in the North West, providing APS Group with a £25m bespoke funding package.

First founded in 1949 on one site in Cheshire, APS Group is a family-owned business which specialises in the production and supply of top quality tomatoes. Growing at 6 sites and producing over 500 million tomatoes a year, APS Group was looking to further improve its cultivation and harvesting facilities to maintain its service levels whilst delivering higher yields in the coming season.

From 2.75m plants, APS Group produces 65 varieties under 70 hectares of glass and harvests 25,000 tonnes of tomatoes every year.

APS was advised by Rickitt Mitchell & Partners and Knights Plc in what was a competitive process, with significant interest from several funders, to deliver a more efficient structuring of the Group’s overall borrowing.

Shawbrook was selected as the funder of choice given the specialist’s ability to combine local knowledge, sector understanding and breadth of offer to create a flexible structure within a timeframe that matched the Group’s requirements. The solution combined a property loan and a working capital facility.

Shawbrook Bank was advised by Squire Patton Boggs, FRP Advisory and Savills plc.

John Phibbs, CFO at APS Group said: “APS Group has experienced rapid growth over the last 12 years and our aim over the coming seasons is to increase productivity levels but continue to grow in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. We therefore needed to streamline costs and further improve our horticultural facilities. This is where Simon and his team came into the picture – they quickly evaluated the business and created a solution that took on board the flexibility and timelines needed to meet our seasonal requirements.”

Matt Greenhalgh, Shawbrook’s Relationship Manager in the North West, said: “The deal team led by Matt Greenhalgh spent a lot of time with APS to understand how their commitment to service, investment in growing facilities and approach to maximising crop yield have resulted in them becoming the UK’s largest tomato producer. Structuring the right facility, taking into account the seasonal nature of the business, was then key and I’m delighted that we’ve delivered exactly what we said we would – quickly.”