Forrest Fresh Foods receive £1.2M financial support to fuel expansion

Forrest Fresh Foods Barclays FDMB North West

Rochdale-head quartered Forrest Fresh Foods has received £1.2m in financial support from the Barclays Northern Powerhouse Growth Fund and UK Export Finance to support the continued expansion of the business.

The support given by Barclays has included a £100k term loan to support growth and investment in new racking, a £600k asset finance facility to support the purchase of new HGV’s and a £500k export Trade Finance facility.

Forrest Fresh Foods (FFF) has been trading for over 20 years and was formed in 1996 by John and Nichola Forrest. Starting life as a fruit and vegetable supplier, they then diversified to sell potatoes to fish and chip shops across the North West. As the business grew, they began to include pallets of pop within their customers’ deliveries.

This area of the business grew to such an extent that FFF focused solely on soft drink and confectionery supplies and ultimately became one of the largest independent wholesalers in the country.

This year, their product portfolio grew from soft drinks and confectionary, to include toiletries and household goods, pet care products and groceries with plans to introduce licensed and medical product. In addition to this, their Export service has seen strong growth delivering some of the world’s leading brands to businesses across the globe, gaining a strong customer base across all continents.

Chris Craven, Managing Director atForrest Fresh Foods Limited said: “We’ve been growing organically since we started out in 1996 and have worked alongside Barclays for many years. This new funding deal has enabled us to invest in new plant and distribution to support our rapid expansion plans. We’re thrilled that Barclays has been able to support us with very tailored funding solutions for our continued growth plans and to take the business to the next level of our trading ambitions.”

The Company employs 46 people and has reported another good trading year with turnover increasing by 28% to £36.46m (2017: £28.54m). FFF also won the International Company of the Year (£25m – £50m turnover) at the North West Business Insider International Trade Awards sponsored by Barclays.

Shamir Patel, Barclays Relationship Director put together the funding package for the deal and said: “Forrest Fresh Foods is a great example of a thriving business that is expanding for the future and contributing to the local economy. The new funding from our Northern Powerhouse fund has enabled the company to invest in critical areas that are needed to support the business’ growth ambitions.”

Isabella Clough, Barclays Trade Finance Director, worked with Chris & his team to understand opportunities available to them through growth in export markets. “A year ago Forrest Fresh only supported the UK market and now they are exporting to several countries all over the world, which is a tremendous achievement. The export Trade Finance facility, which was supported by UK Export Finance, was put in place to ensure working capital was not a concern for the business and enabled them to focus on diversifying into new markets and growing their business.”

The £500m Northern Powerhouse Growth Fund was established to inject investment into businesses across the north of England and is intended for SMEs across the Northern Powerhouse region, including: established businesses with ambitious growth plans, start-ups with high growth potential, companies with early-stage equity funding and businesses focusing on innovation, R&D and technology.

Steve Cowles, Export Finance Manager for North West England for UK Export Finance, who worked with FFF and Barclays’ Trade Finance team, commented, “Businesses that export can make more money, be more productive and support more jobs – and Forrest Fresh are the perfect example of that in action. UK Export Finance is here to help companies like Forrest Fresh win, fulfil and get paid for export contracts, and it’s great to see that quick and easy access to trade finance through our Export Working Capital scheme and our partnership with Barclays has been vital to their recent success.”