Weak pound pushes salad-maker under with loss of 260 jobs

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Salad maker Southern Salads has collapsed into administration with the loss of around 260 positions, with blame levelled at a jump in import costs for fresh vegetables after the referendum last season.

The Tonbridge-based firm has stopped trading with “all but a handful” of the business’ 260 workers laid off, FRP Advisory announced.

The company provided supermarkets, restaurants and travel companies over the UK with goods including slaws, diced vegetables, salad leaves, and deli items among others.

It hit a £30m turnover in 2015. At its peak, it was generating over 50 tonnes of salad in a single day.

A joint administrator at FRP said the company had fought to cope with the rising cost of importing European goods after the fall of the pound.

It had shipped raw vegetables and fruit to the Netherlands, Poland, France, Italy and Spain.

Mr Vickers said: “With insufficient protection from its currency hedging arrangements, pressure increased on cash-flow as the business traded through to this Spring.

“The company was unsuccessful in negotiating any significant changes to its pricing terms with its suppliers in mainland Europe, while also being unable to pass on its cost increases to supermarkets and its other customers.”

He also said the growth of its production in 2014 had put stress on working capital, and the assumed improvement in turnover “never materialised”.

Southern Salads joined with FRP ahead of this summer and choices for new investment, or a trade sale was examined, but neither reached success.

Mr Vickers and Chris Stevens, his joint administrator, have called parties who want to engage in bidding for the firm’s assets to reach them.