St Helens farming business appoints receiver and axes 35 jobs

A St Helens family-run farming and haulage firm has appointed an administrator following two years of tough trading.

Directors of T Wilson & Sons (Farmers) Ltd, appointed Nicola Baker, of turn-around and recovery specialist Rushtons Insolvency, as administrator, on June 14.

The impact of the pandemic over the past year played a major part in the 45-year-old Rainford firm’s woes.

The business comprised a farming and haulage division.

The 1,800-acre farming division grew fresh vegetables and salad produce across Lancashire, Merseyside and Cheshire for customers including Aldi, Booths, Hello Fresh and a number of food service providers across the UK.

The haulage division had a fleet of 25 trucks and 40 temperature-controlled trailers that transported produce for a variety of food industry customers.

Despite a sale of the profitable haulage division to a significant customer, Preston-based Len Wright Salads, in May 2022, that safeguarded 42 haulage and support jobs, the directors were unable to secure a sustainable future for the farming side of the second generation family business in its existing format.

On April 29, the farming division of the business ceased to trade, with the loss of 35 jobs in the farm, packhouse and administrative roles, leaving the directors with no option but to place the company into administration.

Nicola Baker said: “The last few years have seen an unprecedented squeeze on many farms and aspects of food producing businesses, and, sadly, despite the strongly performing specialist haulage business, it was simply not possible for the company to keep trading as it was in the current economic climate.”

Len Wright Salads, which backed the new company that now operates the haulage business, has appointed former haulage director Rob Wilson to continue to run the haulage business under their ownership.

Ms Baker added: “The efforts of the Wilson family and a key customer of the haulage business have saved a significant proportion of the jobs involved, and the new business continues to provide haulage services for customers following its sale.

“However, the directors had a responsibility to cease trading and protect the creditors of the unviable farming side of the business.”

Ms Baker has appointed Eddisons Commercial to auction the remaining assets of the business, including a significant volume of farm machinery and food processing equipment which will be sold by online auction in the coming weeks.

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