UK: Bridge Farm Group returning to independent ownership

A remarkable take-over in the UK herbs and cannabis industry. Only 11 months after the ornamental plants, flowers and herbs growing company Bridge Farm was acquired by a Canadian MMJ grower, the company is back in private ownership.

Bridge Farm Group has executed a definitive agreement that will return the company to independent ownership as a newly formed entity controlled by David Ball, former CEO of Bridge Farm and current Partner at Artemis Growth, a private equity investor. The current management team led by Managing Director, Louise Motala will continue to have full operational control of the business. "David will be the majority share holder in the business," Jen Richardson with the company explains.

Established over 30 years ago, Bridge Farm, which includes the Neame Lea and Zyon brands within its portfolio, specialises in growing ornamental plants, flowers and herbs. The company has a workforce of over 500 employees at peak times across five locations and sells more than 80 million units per year to retailers. Bridge Farm operates at the leading edge of environmental production with over two million square feet of the most technologically advanced, automated glasshouse production in Europe.

Bridge Farm’s core focus will remain on its ornamental horticulture and produce business, where it expects to continue building on its market leading position. The transaction will provide continued investment in its state-of-the-art glasshouse facilities and research into the botanical health and wellness market, including cannabis derived CBD. "We have a R&D license, through which we are exploring the CBD space." 

Louise Motala, Managing Director of Bridge Farm Group said: “The impact of COVID-19 and Brexit on our industry means that the need for high quality, sustainably grown UK products has never been greater. This is an exciting time in Bridge Farm’s history, over the last two years we have invested over £45 million in Clay Lake, one of the most advanced, environmentally sound cultivation facilities in Europe.
We have over 60 acres of fully automated, sustainable cultivation and production space and we are looking forward to realising the full potential of our scale and facilities for the benefit of our customers.”

According to Clearwater International, advisors on the deal, the total transaction value of €74m ($81m) ranks the transaction as the largest European M&A transaction in 2020 for cannabis and cannabis-related companies and represents the largest M&A transaction of 2020 in Europe for the horticulture and farming industry.

Bridge Farm Group was bought back from Sundial, which previously acquired the UK-based operation. Zach George, Sundial's Chief Executive Officer, said:  "This divestiture will allow us to focus on our core strength in premium inhalable products for the Canadian recreational market.  On close, our new management team will have reduced our run-rate annual cash obligations by more than $50 million and created a clear path to the equitization of our balance sheet. I would like to thank the Bridge Farm team for their leadership and courage in the face of COVID-19 as well as our lenders for their continued support." 

For more information:
Bridge Farm Group
Neame Lea Nursery, Horseshoe Road
Spalding, Lincolnshire, PE11 3JB
+44 (0)1775 768 234  

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