thumbnail of GB Fruit Company (Global Berry)

GB Fruit Company (Global Berry)

Return 7.0% IRR
Term 8 years
Total Invested £2.6m
1099  investors
Maturity date 31 Aug 2029
thumbnail of GB Fruit Company (Global Berry)

What does the company do?

This investment was from GB Fruit Company plc, part of the Global Berry group. The Global Berry group of companies was set up in 2015 with the goal of increasing the amount of fruit grown by British farmers whilst at the same time caring for the environment and the people within it. The group own glasshouse strawberry farms in the UK as well as a packing facility.

By farming using controlled environments and renewable energy, like the glasshouses owned by Global Berry, the group can produce more homegrown food more efficiently and in a more environmentally friendly way than many other methods of production. The growing season can be extended by using technologies that control light, humidity, temperature and crop growth in an enclosed controlled environment.

The group’s revenues come from selling its strawberries to a variety of retailers which will depend on the strawberry yield and price. Global Berry aim to agree contracts with various retailers for each season’s crop, providing price certainty each season. This is because the production profile of strawberries grown in advanced glasshouses is more certain than field or polytunnel grown strawberries, where only a proportion are usually sold on seasonal contracts, with the rest being sold on a weekly spot basis. A higher price is paid during the spring and autumn months due to the lack of home-grown supply.

Why did the company raise money?

At the time of the investment offer, the group owned 2 glasshouse strawberry farms of 3 and 11 hectares in Somerset in the southwest of England, as well as its own packing facility at the 3 hectare site.

The funds raised through this investment through its subsidiary company GB Fruit Company Plc (owned by Global Berry Limited) were used to expand the group’s operations with a 3rd glasshouse farm at Nocton, Lincolnshire. The funds were used to refurbish 2 existing glasshouses on the farm and the construction of an additional glasshouse on the farm, plus initial operating costs.

How does the company expect to repay the investment?

GB Fruit Company expects to repay the investment through its own revenues from selling the produce it grows.

How is the company making an impact?

The food industry accounts for a significant proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions so it is a key sector in the climate challenge.

Global Berry’s advanced glasshouses allow the company to grow strawberries in the UK, over a longer growing season, and with lower environmental impacts. By extending the growing season in the UK, the strawberries grown by Global Berry can offset strawberries which would otherwise be imported - reducing food miles while also allowing the company to focus more on flavour and quality rather than longer shelf life.

The Nocton farm uses solar panels to provide the electricity needed and a biomass boiler to provide its heat requirements. The glasshouses use CO2 to enhance the growing environment and Global Berry sources this from a supplier that takes the CO2 that is produced as a by-product from anaerobic digestion plants (another form of renewable energy).

The strawberries growing in one of Global Berry’s advanced glasshouses
The strawberries growing in one of Global Berry’s advanced glasshouses

Key terms

Issuer GB Fruit Company
Return 7.0% IRR
Term period 8 years
Start date 1 September 2021
Maturity date 31 August 2029
Capital repayment Regular instalments
Amount raised £2,600,000.00
Return structure

The interest and capital repayment is paid in equal instalments every 6 months over the life of the investment.

Secured or unsecured Secured It is important to understand that security does not guarantee repayment of your investment or returns.
Security package

This investment has first ranking security over all of the assets of GB Fruit Company under a package of security documents including:

  • security agreements by way of fixed and floating charge over all the assets of GB Fruit Company
  • share security over all the issued share capital of GB Fruit Company
  • various direct agreements which provide the Security Trustee with certain rights such as being notified of a termination event or, in some cases, stepping into the company'ss shoes upon a termination event under certain project contracts.
Early repayment options

The company can choose to repay the Debentures at any point from 1 September 2023 onwards subject to paying an early redemption fee and giving 20 business days's notice. The early redemption fee, in this scenario, will include:

  • an amount of interest that provides you with a return on your capital up to the point of the redemption that equates to a 7% effective rate of return; and,
  • an additional amount of interest equivalent to the proceeding 6 months's interest payment

The company can also make an early repayment in certain circumstances, such as a change of control of the company (for example, if some or all of the company was sold to a new owner) or a regulatory/tax requirement.

See the Debenture Deed for details of all circumstances in which the option for early repayment may be exercised.

Documents

Debenture Deed
Download PDF The debenture deed sets out the legal agreement and terms for this investment.

Payment schedule

This table gives a breakdown of what is due to be paid back on this investment, based on an example investment of £1,000.

Payment schedule table
Payment date Capital repayment Interest Total
31 August 2022 £66.67 £22.80 £89.47
28 February 2023 £66.67 £22.80 £89.47
31 August 2023 £66.67 £22.80 £89.47
28 February 2024 £66.67 £22.80 £89.47
30 August 2024 £66.67 £22.80 £89.47
28 February 2025 £66.67 £22.80 £89.47
29 August 2025 £66.67 £22.80 £89.47
27 February 2026 £66.67 £22.80 £89.47
31 August 2026 £66.67 £22.80 £89.47
26 February 2027 £66.67 £22.80 £89.47
31 August 2027 £66.67 £22.80 £89.47
29 February 2028 £66.67 £22.80 £89.47
31 August 2028 £66.67 £22.80 £89.47
28 February 2029 £66.67 £22.80 £89.47
31 August 2029 £66.62 £22.80 £89.42
Total £1,000.00 £342.00 £1,342.00

Updates

These updates tell the story of the investment over its life and include information reported to investors by the company or council behind the investment. The updates are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute an inducement or invitation to invest. Information provided at the time of publishing may no longer be accurate.

As explained in the administrator’s progress report in January, the remaining route to further recovery for investors is the claims being explored in GB Fruit Company plc, and other Global Berry group companies, against third parties and the previous directors. This involves a legal process currently being led by FTS Recovery’s solicitors which by its nature limits the details that are able to be disclosed currently to Abundance and onwards to debenture holders. Abundance continues to be in contact with the administrator who has confirmed it will provide further information on the claims and the process as and when it is able to do so. This current holding situation is not unusual as legal claims such as these can be lengthy processes.

In June 2023 GB Fruit Company plc was placed into administration by the interim Recovery Director, Matthew Evans, due to the insolvency of the business and the wider Global Berry group.

The appointed Administrators’, Marco Piacquadio and Alan Coleman from FTS Recovery Limited (a firm of licensed Insolvency Practitioners serving appointments across the UK), published their “Administrator's progress report” on the Companies House website (available here) on 28 December 2023 outlining the work and process undertaken since their appointment and over the last six months.

In summary, the progress report sets out:

  • the funds recovered from sale of the company's assets as already outlined in the Administrator’s update to investors in June 2023
  • a summary of the ongoing work and an outline of what could happen from here.

Further updates will be provided as and when material developments occur and / or as the Administrator is required by statute to report.

Note from FTS Recovery for investors in GB Fruit Company

We are writing to advise that the pre-pack sale of GB Fruit Company Plc’s business and assets has completed. Its principal assets included the strawberry crop that was growing, structures and equipment that were owned by GB Fruit Company.

The sale was made to Camilon Group Ltd (the site’s landlord). The sum received achieves fair value, as advised by the Administrators duly qualified agents and valuers, John Pye & Sons Auctioneers. The amount is reflective of the current economic environment, the distressed nature of the business and the fact that the site was held as leasehold, not freehold.

The amount recovered from the sale, after professional costs, is £297,000 and this will be distributed to Abundance investors in proportion to your investment holding. This amount does not include a VAT reclaim we are making which is expected in 2 months or so and will be distributed to Abundance investors upon its receipt. This is expected to be in the region of a further £25k (approximately).

Our efforts are now focused on what other avenues of recovery there are for creditors and the cost of pursuing them weighed against the chance of success. We will provide further updates in due course in this respect.

Dear investor,

The note provided to you on 3 May 2023 referred to the offer received from Camilon Group, the landlord at the Nocton site, to buy the assets belonging to GB Fruit Company in a pre-pack sale. This note is to advise you that the sale was completed on Tuesday 9 May and the appointments of myself and Alan Coleman as Joint Administrators is now confirmed. We will provide further updates via Abundance Investment on the administration process and potential for recovery for investors in due course.

Please direct any questions you may have to Abundance Investment who will answer where possible, or pass them to us to address in future updates.

Yours sincerely,

Marco Piacquadio - FTS Recovery

Dear investor,

We are writing to you from Abundance to express our deepest regret given the recent events at the Global Berry group and the significant negative impact it may have for many of our customers. We understand how difficult and frustrating this experience must be for you, and we want to assure you that we are doing everything we can to support the administrators in their efforts to recover as much as possible and minimise the impact on our customers.

Marco Piacquadio of FTS Recovery has provided a note to help investors in GB Fruit Company and GB Lights understand the different insolvency roles and what they mean, and what he and his team have already been doing. As a licensed insolvency practitioner, Marco and his colleagues have a statutory obligation to recover as much as reasonably possible for the benefit of creditors and shareholders. Debenture investors are the most senior creditors in GB Fruit Company and GB Lights respectively, and therefore are first to receive the benefit of what is recovered for those companies after the costs of achieving recovery.

The news we received from Matt Evans (the new director put in place with restructuring and insolvency experience) regarding the financial distress of the group was a deep shock to Abundance and the extent of the issues is only being realised the longer Matt Evans and FTS Recovery have been in their respective roles. The initial expectation was that problems were largely limited to Bradon Soft Fruits and Global Berry Ltd, and that the Global Berry group overall remained a good business that restructuring could solve. However, it is clear now that debts and the deception of the previous directors have been piling up rapidly, placing all entities in the group in an untenable position (Marco Piacquadio’s note gives more detail).

Our first and most immediate priority has been to do what we can to help Matt Evans and FTS Recovery in their investigations and efforts to get as much back for investors as possible. We know many of you would like to know what amount is likely recoverable for Abundance investors – unfortunately the investigations are not complete plus the different insolvency exercises underway in the 4 companies in the group have some way to run. This means it is not possible to say at this stage, although there will be further clarity over time. It is fair to say however that investors should expect a significant loss of the amount invested. The administrator has a statutory obligation to recover as much as possible for you, and considerable powers to support his efforts – again, you can read about this in his note.

It is clear that we, Abundance investors, the other Global Berry shareholders and a significant number of suppliers and partners who supported the previous directors’ ambition to build a homegrown and more sustainable strawberry business, were misled and wrong about their character. While we can understand and appreciate that a business can face challenges, particular in the current economic climate, the deception and financial mismanagement by the previous directors, given the many opportunities to respond truthfully to our questions about how they were doing, has profoundly shaken us. We take our responsibility to our customers very seriously and as you would expect, will conduct a review of our processes to understand what lessons can be learned.

We will also continue to collate your questions and will answer them where we can, or coordinate responses with Matt Evans and FTS Recovery that can be shared with everyone to keep you up to date at the right times.

On a personal level, as founders and directors of Abundance, we are very sorry for the emotional distress and impact this may have caused. All efforts are focused now on what can be achieved through the various avenues available for recovery and rest assured that all options are being and will be investigated.

We understand that trust is essential in any relationship, and we want to assure you that we remain committed to building and maintaining the trust of our customers. We will keep you informed of any updates on the situation and ensure that we are transparent and open with you throughout this process, without compromising any of the investigation being led by FTS Recovery.

Bruce Davis, Karl Harder & Louise Wilson

Joint Managing Director Co-Founders of Abundance Investment

Please read the full update here

Please read the full update here

Please read the full update here

Global Berry has informed Abundance that it is unable to make the Cash Return payment due today (Tuesday 28 February) as expected. Abundance is in communication with the company which expects to provide an update with more details to investors in the coming days.

Please read the full update here

An investment return from GB Fruit Company (Global Berry) was paid today.

This investment is now available to be put up for sale on the marketplace following the completion of the legal steps required to confirm the investment.

Please read the full update here

Please read the full update here

Global Berry are currently in the process of completing the final legal steps that are required before they can draw down the funding raised. This has taken longer than expected, but should be completed within the next 1 – 2 weeks. At this point the investment will appear as ‘on track’ in your Abundance account, and you will also be able to trade it on the marketplace if you wish.

Please read the full update here

This investment closed today.

Please read the full update here

GB Fruit Company (Global Berry) opened for investment today.