Triodos Bank has provided £5m of funding to help an organic veg box operation transfer 74% of the company ownership to employees.
Guy Singh-Watson, founder and owner of Riverford, completed the move following more than 10 years of research and reflection over the future of the company with a firm desire to protect its independence and values.
The funding was provided through a £3m loan, with an additional £2m of working capital facilities.
Guy founded the veg box business Riverford Organic Farmers in 1987 and it has now grown to more than 650 people, who deliver veg boxes to 50,000 homes a week.
Simon Crichton, food, farming and trade team manager at Triodos Bank, said that Guy had been listening and talking about a succession vision for Riverford and had now delivered.
“As a bank, we focus on only financing positive environmental and social change and given our support for both the organic sector and forward-thinking, sustainable businesses – including many using a community ownership model – it was great to be involved in this transition.
“We wish them all the best in the next phase of Riverford’s journey."
The ethical bank and Riverford have had a long relationship, which pre-dates any direct agreement regarding lending facilities.
Guy said that Triodos had always helped to create the linkages between the people who were interested in supporting organic farming and those who wanted a fair return on their money, rather than maximising profit at the cost of everything else.
“Despite our impressive growth at Riverford over the last 30 years, we’re not here for profit.
“I started the business to produce something useful to the world.
“Being employee-owned will protect our model of sustainable, large-scale food production and our ethical values.”
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