A SOMERSET strawberry grower has purchased two plots of land totalling 34.5 acres after securing £5.5 million in funding.

Global Berry, which produces strawberries for major supermarkets including Sainsbury’s, Aldi, Morrisons and M&S, has acquired land it has been renting for the past five years.

The £6.5 million turnover business, based near Yeovil, decided to make an offer to its landlord for the two plots, which already house the glasshouses it uses for growing its strawberries, so that it could invest in the long-term future of the firm.

Buying the land outright has enabled Global Berry to make major savings across the business, with its monthly loan repayments now 45 per cent less than it previously paid in rent.

With the money saved, the business will invest in renewable energy to heat the glasshouses, transitioning away from using natural gas to biomass fuel.

John Downes, managing director at Global Berry, said: “When we started this business, it was a bit of a moment of madness. We spotted an opportunity in the market and decided to go for it. Now, five years later, we’re supplying some of the UK’s biggest retailers.

“Buying this land is a huge advantage for us. We can plan for our long-term future while also making some crucial changes to the sustainability of our business in the short term – something we’re really passionate about.”

Global Berry started out in 2015 and now produces more than 1,400 tonnes of strawberries each year.

The business grows its crops in glasshouses rather than conventional polytunnels, meaning it can harvest the fruit out of season. In doing so, it can continue to supply the major supermarkets throughout the year, reducing the retailers’ need to import fruit from overseas.

Despite the pandemic, the firm is celebrating one of its most successful years, with the business employing more than 140 members of staff across its two sites.

Padraig Connellan at Synergy Finance introduced Global Berry to Ian Tudor and Michael Mills, NatWest relationship director, who arranged finance from the bank.

Michael said: “Building a £6.5m turnover business in only five years is an incredible achievement and testament to the hard work John and his team have put in.

“Their commitment to sustainability is commendable – not only because of their transition to renewable energy, but also for how they provide our biggest retailers with an alternative to importing fruit from overseas during the off-peak seasons.

"I look forward to seeing how the business grows over the next five years.”