Rhubarb Farming Grows for Britain

Yorkshire & Clydesdale Bank, part of Virgin Money plc, has this week financed the purchase of a neighbouring farm for one of the foremost rhubarb farmers in West Yorkshire.

The purchase of the 122-acre Castle Head Farm near Wakefield, for E Oldroyd and Sons, will create one of the largest rhubarb producers in the UK.

Located in the famous rhubarb triangle in West Yorkshire, E Oldroyd and Sons supplies its celebrated product direct to Sainsbury’s supermarkets, wholesalers, prestigious restaurants and Covent Garden market itself. Thanks to funding from the Bank, owner and long-standing customer, Janet Oldroyd, will now be able to expand both the farming enterprise and rhubarb production, putting her business on a virtual national footing.

The Oldroyds

The Oldroyds

This is just one example of the finance projects that the Bank is funding as it continues to focus on investment in the rural economy, despite the COVID-19 lock down and the wider economic challenges.  All members of the Bank’s agricultural team have an excellent knowledge of the farming sector and its latest developments in order to provide specialist support and financing for opportunities like this.

On completing the purchase for her expansion, Janet commented: “We now have much–needed additional rhubarb forcing sheds to increase our capacity.  Our plans, and the COVID-19 pandemic, have put us into uncharted waters, but we were determined not to let a virus stand in the way of growth and innovation.” 

E Oldroyd & Sons currently produces 1000 tonnes a year of rhubarb, of which 200 tonnes are forced.  Through this expansion and investment in facilities, the business’s aim is to increase rhubarb production by 25% over the next 5 years, directly targeting some of the large UK supermarkets.

It was taking advantage of asset funding from the Bank which allowed Janet to further grow her business.  She is now the proud owner of the adjacent Castle Head Farm, increasing the farm to almost 900 acres.  The funding has also helped with the investment needed to bring the production infrastructure at Castle Head up to the standards for today’s marketplace.  

A 5th generation farmer, this expansion allows Janet to continue with the legacy that the family have adopted for almost a century. She added: “I have been with Yorkshire Bank for 26 years and simply could not have bought the farm without the knowledge and invaluable support of our local Agribusiness Relationship Manager (ARM), Darren Smith, who worked with us through every stage of the process.” 

Commenting on Janet’s vision and determination to succeed, Darren said: “Janet is a very dynamic business owner and clearly knew what she wanted to accomplish for her thriving business. She had the vision but did not have the means to finance it so the Bank was the enabler. My role was to help her every step of the way so that she could successfully expand and invest further.”

Janet continued: “Darren certainly knows finance and the farming sector inside out, and helped me to identify the right finance package to expand and preserve the business for future generations.”

Yorkshire & Clydesdale Bank is keen to re-assure the agricultural sector that transactions like these are encouragingly still taking place and has seen an increase in requests by the agricultural industry for all levels of financial advice.  These include asset finance, adjustments to banking terms as a cushion during these worrying events, as well as advising on financial packages that have been put in place by the Government to help businesses to survive the uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

For many businesses, especially for farmers, securing finance can be extremely daunting, and Darren wants rural businesses to know that specialist expertise is out there:  

 “My advice to any rural business considering new opportunities at this time, is to get in touch as the landscape is not a bleak as it seems. We are very much on hand to help you with any financial needs at this time.”

“Agricultural Relationship Managers at Yorkshire and Clydesdale Bank play a key role in working closely with customers, to provide finance and banking services for their day-to-day requirements, investment for longer term improvements and even for help amidst a crisis situation as we are now experiencing with COVID-19.

Yorkshire & Clydesdale Bank

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