Record sales surge at Peterborough organic farm just a year after the workers took control

Staff at Riverford.
Staff at Riverford.
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Organic veg box company Riverford in Peterborough has seen its sales hit a new record.

The 30-year-old organic farm at Sacrewell has reported a 10 per cent rise in sales for the first half of the financial year.

Riverford founder Guy Singh-Watson.

Riverford founder Guy Singh-Watson.

It means the business is on course to beat its target of a £70 million turnover by 2020.

Profit before tax and co-owner profit share is expected to be a record £3.7 million.

The rise comes a year after Riverford’s employees became the owners of the business when founder Guy Singh-Watson sold 74 per cent of the enterprise.

Riverford managing director Rob Haward said: “We’ve had the best year in terms of sales growth in company history and that is no coincidence.

“A growing sense of unity, shared purpose and a new sense of pride among co-owners has really transformed the business in the last year, with motivation, ideas and a sense of ownership impacting everything from productivity, to financial performance, to staff turnover.”

Jleon Robertson, co-owner and quality control team member, said: “Becoming a co-owner has given me a huge sense of pride. You can see the difference in everyone around the business.”

Mr Singh-Watson, said: “Founder-entrepreneurs who sell their businesses to the highest bidder are typically smug to start with but, as the new owners destroy their creation, they suffer an identity crisis, ending up rich but bitter.

“By contrast, over our first year of employee ownership I have grown happier every day, watching Riverford grow by doing things better.”

The increased profits will be re-invested in areas such as mechanisation in the packhouse and on the farm, to help secure Riverford’s viability for the future, as well as in staff pay, benefits and working conditions.

The company also aims to double the profit share to co-owners from 10 to 20 per cent.

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