Funding enables major step forward for food producer

Yorkshire & Clydesdale Bank, part of Virgin Money, has financed the acquisition of a neighbouring farm for a West Yorkshire rhubarb farmer.

The purchase of the 122-acre Castle Head Farm near Wakefield, for E Oldroyd and Sons, will create one of the largest rhubarb producers in the UK.

Located in the famous rhubarb triangle in West Yorkshire, E Oldroyd and Sons supplies its product direct to Sainsbury’s supermarkets, wholesalers, prestigious restaurants and Covent Garden market.

Thanks to funding from the bank, owner and long-standing customer, Janet Oldroyd, will be able to expand both the farming enterprise and rhubarb production.

She said: “We now have much needed additional rhubarb forcing sheds to increase our capacity.

“Our plans, and the COVID-19 pandemic, have put us into uncharted waters, but we were determined not to let a virus stand in the way of growth and innovation.”

E Oldroyd & Sons currently produces 1,000 tonnes a year of rhubarb.  Through this expansion and investment in facilities, the business’s aim is to increase rhubarb production by 25% over the next five years, targeting some of the large UK supermarkets.

Oldroyd said: “I have been with Yorkshire Bank for 26 years and simply could not have bought the farm without the knowledge and invaluable support of our local agribusiness relationship manager, Darren Smith, who worked with us through every stage of the process.”

Smith said: “Janet is a very dynamic business owner and clearly knew what she wanted to accomplish for her thriving business.

“She had the vision but did not have the means to finance it so the bank was the enabler. My role was to help her every step of the way so that she could successfully expand and invest further.

“My advice to any rural business considering new opportunities at this time, is to get in touch as the landscape is not a bleak as it seems. We are very much on hand to help with any financial needs at this time.”