Posted on 01 March 2010.
Ardo UK is now prepared to meet the growing consumer demand for frozen foods while also improving cost competitiveness after consolidating its two UK operations into a single site at Charing in Kent, following investment of £16 million.
Well known for its Ardo and Shearway brands, Ardo UK specialises in producing and packaging frozen fruit and vegetables, which are sourced and imported from throughout the world. The company has a turnover of about £50 million and is part of Belgium-based Ardo group.
Ardo UK was formed in 2004 following the merger of Ardo’s two British operations – Ardo Shearway and Ryan Foods. The merger of two highly complementary companies served to enhance the market standing of the combined business while also improving customer service.
Ardo UK’s Charing site has now been expanded with the construction of a new state-of-the-art processing and packing hall for freezing and packing fruit, pasta, rice and vegetables for the retail trade and the food service industry. The new £16 million building also incorporates additional cold storage space to increase capacity to 20,000 pallet spaces, along with extra office space and employee facilities. The new development features ‘zero impact’ on the community building visibility and a green approach. For instance, the heat from the freezer cooling system is being used to generate hot water, yielding 15% savings in energy consumption.
The recently completed expansion at Charing has entailed the replacement of Ardo UK’s second site, located about 11 miles away at Headcorn in Kent. The Headcorn site had been used to take bulk materials, from Ardo’s European factories and globally, and repackage them into various customer packages and recipes for customers such as Tesco, Sainsbury and Waitrose. However, in line with the company’s ongoing quest to improve efficiency it was a natural step to consolidate operations into a single site equipped with state-of-the-art facilities.
Low Cost Producer
Consolidating its operations into a single site has streamlined the business and will enhance competitiveness. “This expansion on our existing site enables Ardo UK to meet its commercial aspirations while also helping the company to remain a low-cost producer, with that benefit passed on to our customers and to the consumer through continued competitive pricing,” explains Stephen Waugh, managing director of Ardo UK. “The redevelopment will result in additional versatility and flexibility to the Ardo UK operation, bringing on site the capacity not only to pack, but to handle new and unusual pack types, and it will mean far fewer lorry movements.”
In conjunction with developing the new £16 million facilities at Charing, Ardo UK has been improving the quality of its workforce by investing in training to up-skill its staff. “We believe that our staff provide the key to the future and, as such, we’ve employed a new human resource manager who will co-ordinate our investment in their skills,” he points out.
Ardo UK’s headquarters at Charing is an ideal operating base for both exporting to and importing from continental Europe and part of the expanded storage space has been made available for external customers.
The £16 million investment will help Ardo UK meet the increasing demand from consumers for fresh-frozen vegetables and fruit, which is very evident in the deep freeze segment of the retail sector. This growth is being fuelled by factors such as stable prices, good availability and the growing consumer recognition of the quality aspects of deep freeze products.
Ardo UK’s parent group is Europe’s largest supplier of frozen fruit and vegetables with a turnover of Eur556 million in 2009. Ardo originated in the 1950s from a small family farming business, which was growing and trading vegetables near the village of Ardooie in Belgium. Ardo’s first vegetable freezing factory was built on the family farm in 1977 and the company took its name from the nearby village.
Ardo has since developed its production facilities and sales throughout Europe and now employs over 2,500 people globally. The group operates 15 production sites across eight European countries. Each year Ardo sells over 500,000 tonnes of processed fresh-frozen vegetables, fruit, prepared vegetables, pasta, rice and herbs to customers in more than 50 countries around the world.
The Ardo motto is ‘preserving the precious gift of nature’ and as a focused vegetable and fruit business its strategy is to be the best in three crucial areas – supply chain, quality and innovation.
Ardo’s goal is to maximise customer satisfaction. For this reason, Ardo’s philosophy from the start has been to sell directly to the customer. In every country in which Ardo is active, the sales offices are run by its own commercial employees.
The Ardo product range offers a wide variety of frozen vegetables, vegetable mixes, vegetable preparations and fruit, and the company has a strong track record of continuous innovation in developing products and production methods in association with its customers.