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Oxfordshire: Shaw Gibbs assists in creation of new fresh food company

By Dan Teuton
16 March 2015
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Summertown-based accountancy and business advisory practice Shaw Gibbs has completed a deal between Fresh Direct and Bain Capital.  The agreement, which was unveiled in November 2014, creates a new company that brings together three of Bain’s fresh food businesses – M&J Seafood, Pauleys and Wild Harvest – with fresh produce wholesaler Fresh Direct.

The new company will operate under the Fresh Direct name, with M&J Seafood, Pauleys and Wild Harvest retaining their brand names. The merger creates an all-in-one fresh food destination for chefs and caterers, providing produce, fish and seafood, meat and products for exclusive fine dining requirements.

Shaw Gibbs’ corporate finance team has facilitated the agreement through to completion, providing due diligence, corporate financial services and financial restructuring advice.

Peter O’Connell, who led the Shaw Gibbs team, said: “This deal was a dream right from the very beginning.  These major players in a dynamic market have joined up to create a new stronger group which is built on the solid foundations of market experience, customer loyalty and extensive resources. We are very proud to have played a part in making this happen.”

Shaw Gibbs managing director Graham Henley has advised the family since 1986.  He said: "It was the right deal for the company and the Harris family.  It is always satisfying to work alongside real entrepreneurial clients; Nigel always challenges his advisers and I am happy to have worked alongside him planning this deal for the past two years."

The new company’s management team will be led by current Fresh Direct managing director David Burns.

He said: “When considering this opportunity, we needed to agree that it enhanced and added value to our business plans, giving due consideration to our customer requirements in a rapidly evolving market. I am, therefore, extremely excited at the decision we have arrived at. This opportunity stood out head and shoulders above other possibilities, was good for employees and provided broader opportunities for our customers.”

The new company will be jointly owned by Bain Capital & Nigel Harris. Current Fresh Direct owners Nigel and Colin Harris will continue to take an active role in the future success of the new company.

John Harris, the founder of H&H Fruiterers, the family-owned greengrocer which Fresh Direct originated from, said: “I’m incredibly proud of our family business. We’ve come such a long way since we started out in 1966 and I think that this new venture is exactly the right move for Fresh Direct, our staff and our customers to take us into the next chapter of our story.”