Fresh Direct takes on three Brakes-owned fresh food businesses

By Noli Dinkovski

- Last updated on GMT

David Burns becomes CEO of the new company
David Burns becomes CEO of the new company

Related tags: Private equity

Bain Capital is to move three of its Brakes-owned fresh food businesses – M&J Seafood, Pauleys and Wild Harvest – under the management of a restructured Fresh Direct.

The US private equity firm said the move will mean Fresh Direct will have the capability to deliver fresh products six or seven days a week from dedicated local fresh depots.

It added that ‘fresh’ is the fastest growing part of the food market, with almost one third of Brakes’ sales currently coming from fresh and chilled food.

The new company will be jointly owned by Bain Capital and current Fresh Direct co-owner Nigel Harris.

A new management team will be led by David Burns, the current managing director of Fresh Direct. Burns will become the chief executive.

Brand names

M&J, Pauleys and Wild Harvest will retain their brand names. M&J is the UK’s largest foodservice fish company, and Pauleys has been the fresh produce division of the Brakes Group since 2002.

Covent Garden-based Wild Harvest, meanwhile, supplies seasonal ingredients to restaurants throughout the UK.

Harris, along with his brother Colin, will continue to take an active role in Fresh Direct. Their vision is to make it an ‘all-in-one’ fresh food destination for chefs and caterers – incorporating fish and seafood, meat and exclusive fine-dining product requirements.

Family business

Fresh Direct was first established as a family business nearly 50 years ago, when John Harris – Nigel and Colin’s father – established local greengrocer H&H Fruiterers with then-business partner Bill Hawkins.

John Harris said: "I’m incredibly proud of our family business. We’ve come such a long way since we started out in 1966 and I think that this new venture is exactly the right deal for Fresh Direct, our staff and our customers to take us into the next chapter of our story."

Bain Capital operating partner Jeff Scherer said: "Bain Capital is excited to now be associated with two leaders in the UK foodservice industry – Fresh Direct and Brakes.

"As we got to know Fresh Direct and their leadership team, we were extremely impressed with the great quality of service it offers customers and the outstanding reputation its team has across the foodservice market."

Added value

David Burns, Fresh Direct managing director, added: "When considering this opportunity, we needed to agree that it enhanced and added value to our business plans, giving due consideration to our customer requirements in a rapidly-evolving market."

He added: "I am, therefore, extremely excited at the decision we have arrived at. This opportunity stood out head and shoulders above other possibilities, was good for employees and provided broader opportunities for our customers."

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