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Cauliflower company grows

Emma Stevens of Riviera ProduceOne of the largest cauliflower producers and marketers in Cornwall, named last year as one of the UK's fastest growing companies, is continuing to expand with the help of Objective One investment.

Riviera Produce Ltd, based near Hayle, produces, packs and markets Cornish cauliflower, spring greens and cabbage to many of the major supermarkets and to wholesalers, retailers and processors in the South West.

Fast track 100 ranks Britain's hundred fastest growing unquoted companies by 2000-2003 sales growth. Published in The Sunday Times in December 2005, Riviera Produce Ltd came in at number 75, notably the only agriculture-based firm to be featured.

This year, business is still growing rapidly, aided by the valuable contribution made by Emma Stevens, employed under the Unlocking Cornish Potential (UCP) scheme as Riviera's marketing manager South West.

UCP, a highly successful Combined Universities in Cornwall initiative, has received Objective One investment and is run by Cornwall College. It places graduates with businesses in the region, subsidising salary and supplying a mentor for up to 12 months.

Since Emma joined Riviera Produce Ltd in March 2005, sales into South West markets have increased by more than 20% and she has developed the region's customer base by 50%. "So many organisations simply pay lip service to sourcing local food, reducing food miles and giving consumers the quality that they expect, but Riviera are physically taking steps to achieve this," said Emma, who graduated from Keele University, Staffordshire in Business, French and German. "We are also still developing national accounts, maintaining a 52 week supply of Cornish cauliflower and spring greens thanks to our agronomy expertise."

As well as focusing on boosting local markets, Emma has also been developing margin trackers to compare performance year on year, as well as forecasts and budgets to predict peaks and troughs in supply and demand to maximise sales. "Using forecasting, budgets and tracking we are able to plan for any surplus and deficit, allowing us to supply all customers, regardless of size, whilst maintaining continuity, availability and the highest quality."

David Simmons, managing director, added: "Through the UCP scheme we have been able to employ an extremely high calibre graduate to make an impact through the co-ordination and implementation of our sales and marketing strategy here at Riviera Produce."

Allyson Glover, UCP spokesperson, said: "Emma has done an exceptional job, the work she is doing and the information she is providing is putting the business one step ahead of the game."

Emma added: "UCP has given me the opportunity to achieve an appropriate level of employment. I had definite salary requirements and certain expectations of the role, and these were met by UCP and Riviera."

Riviera Produce Ltd has also benefited from Objective One investment for a new cold store facility to ensure that this high quality is maintained and controlled throughout the cool-chain.

David Rodda, Cornwall Agricultural Council spokesman, said: "Riviera Produce is an example of an agricultural business that has embraced the challenges and opportunities facing the industry and developed a business that has achieved significant growth in recent years. It has utilised the investment available from the Objective One Programme to build the facilities required to cater for the demands of the multiple retailers and to employ people with the necessary skills to ensure continued growth. Riviera Produce also works in partnership with 40 other farmers who grow much of the produce required to fulfil their contracts. This supply chain network works well and is a further example of the industry collaborating together to add value."

For further information please contact Clare Morgan on 01872 223439 or email:

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in the Unlocking Cornish Potential project through the European Social Fund (ESF). The Programme has also invested in Riviera Produce through the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).

Anyone considering a new horticulture, food and land based industries project is advised to speak with Martin Butler, at Government Office South West on 01752 635015 before commencing development as there are now only limited funds available due to the successful uptake of funding by the agricultural sector in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.


Editor's notes:

Riviera Produce and its sister company PE Simmons and Son are one of Cornwall's leading packer/producers of Cornish fruit and vegetables for the UK retail, processing and wholesale markets, sourcing over one million trays of produce all year round from local farms and its own 2,500-acre family run estate. Riviera Produce sales have risen 75% a year from an annualised £1.3 million in 2000 to £6.8 million in 2003.

Riviera Produce benefited from £88,000 of Objective One investment from the EAGGF (European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund), with match funding coming from the Department of Food, Environment & Rural Affairs, to invest £439,000 into the development of a state-of-the-art production site, at Hayle. This has helped sales to rise by 75% year on year, boosting the produce demanded for Cornish produce.

Key Achievements for Riviera produce include:

Increased sales into South West markets by more than 20%.
Developed customer base to include 50% more major wholesalers and processors.
PR through radio Cornwall focusing on local fresh produce.
Published articles in industry journals including The Fresh Produce Journal, The Grocer, and Farmers' Weekly.
Represented company at Royal Cornwall Show and The Royal Show in Stoneleigh.
Established an efficient and professional reception service to ensure that all customers are given our best attention.
Set up weekly retail price-checker reports.
Set up margin tracker reports on Opera for all national accounts.
Carry out supermarket visits to rank merchandising, range, quality and price each week to provide comparisons.

Unlocking Cornish Potential (UCP): UCP programmes place graduates with small and medium sized businesses in Cornwall. Investment in UCP through Objective One means that participating businesses receive 30% of the cost of taking on their graduate for the duration of the project. Graduates and their employers also receive support from an independent mentor, 70% of previous UCP graduates have been offered a permanent position with their host company at the end of the project. UCP was the first project launched by the Combined Universities in Cornwall (CUC) initiative to offer direct business support. It is managed by Cornwall College.


Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

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