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William Burgess

Growing Trust in Turbulent Times

Produce World has evolved through a number of periods of volatile markets since it was established in 1898. William Burgess, the current Chief Executive Officer and fourth generation of the Burgess family to be at the helm, discusses how the company has adapted to change and the shifting market dynamics of the fresh produce sector to become a leading supplier to all of the major food retailers.

EFFP: Securing contracts with customers to match this growth in output must have been essential. What is needed to create customer relationships which can then be translated into additional orders?

WB: While there are a number of elements, I believe that customer confidence has provided the principle platform for our growth in sales. In 1981, when turnover was around £1million we invested in auto packing equipment that enabled contracts to be secured directly with two retailers, the Co-operative and Waitrose. In the 1990’s Sainsbury’s showed a similar confi dence in our ability to supply them directly with onions. It is the direct supply chain to retail customers based on confi dence and trust that has driven the last 30 years of growth that we have been able to achieve.

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