An Essex-based supplier of dried fruit, nuts and ingredients has secured a £17m funding facility from Praetura Commercial Finance, as it prepares to accelerate its growth in 2024.
Community Foods, which is based in Witham, supplies both retail-ready and bulk ingredients to major grocery and manufacturing clients. The business specialises in packaging and distributing a range of branded products, from dried fruits, nuts and seeds, to cereals, pulses and rice, and is now one of the UK’s leading suppliers. Its retail clients include Sainsbury’s and Tesco.
The company is using the backing from Praetura Commercial Finance to fuel a three-year strategic investment plan, which includes investing in site improvements and enhancing manufacturing capability. Established in 1971, Community Foods was acquired by its long-standing partner Vesta Fruit in 2023 and is now planning to grow its 150-strong workforce and build revenues further, after topping £70m last year.
Martin Rome, managing director at Community Foods said: “It’s an exciting time for Community Foods, and the new funding facility is just adding to our momentum. We recognise that there are opportunities to grow our presence, and the products and services we offer – we now need to invest to make that happen.
“Meeting Praetura Commercial Finance’s senior management team gave us the comfort and reassurance that we were dealing with real professionals and asset-based lending (ABL) specialists. We are excited to be embarking on our next phase with the team’s backing.”
Stuart Bates, commercial director at Praetura Commercial Finance, said: “Community Foods has been a trusted expert in the sourcing and supply of dried fruits, nuts and seeds for over five decades. I was impressed by the board’s commitment, knowledge and passion for the business, led by Martin Rome. The new ownership with Vesta gives Martin and the team an excellent platform to drive shareholder value in the coming months and years.
“We’re pleased to have the opportunity to support the team, providing the right ingredients for growth in the form of an ABL funding facility and our trademark more than money approach to relationship-led lending.”
Richard Massing, director at Kingswood Corporate Finance, who advised Community Foods on the deal, added: “From the initial introduction to Praetura Commercial Finance’s sales director Jeff Greenfield, it was clear there was the appetite and ability to deliver what our client needed. The Praetura process was run efficiently, and it was refreshing to meet the founders of Praetura Commercial Finance early in the negotiation.”