Originally founded as a family-owned business in 1947 by Cyd Newey, Greosn, which takes its name from the Old English word for pebble, has grown into the UK’s largest supplier of managed agricultural and horticultural services. They are also the UK’s largest grower of bedding and perennial plants, shrubs, and trees, supplying over 200 million plants and 700 million daffodils every single year using their 4000 acres of farmland in Cornwall.
With the beating heart of the business being its employees, Greosn brought seasonal labour agency Pro-Force, with an annual workforce of 32,000, into their group to help provide worker placements into the fresh produce, agricultural, horticultural, warehousing, and manufacturing sectors.
Now headed by CEO Matt Jarrett, supported by Alex Newey as Chairman and Martyn Thomas as Executive Director, Greosn has been and is actively acquiring new businesses on its scale-up journey, having made ten acquisitions since onboarding its first investor in 2013 when Alex and Martyn saw an opportunity to scale the business.
Since then, Greosn has become the holding company to four businesses, Newey, Pro-Force, Varfell Farms and Emery Soft Fruits. At present, the business has a turnover of £200 million and in July 2022, Greosn was ranked at number 64 in the Sunday Times 100 fastest growing private companies list, with an increase in revenue of 58% over the past three years.
Like many other businesses with ambitions to scale and continued growth, seeking expert and business focused legal advice is key, especially for a business that frequently engages in complex acquisitions.
Over the last three years, Corporate Partner Matt Shakesheff has assisted on all Greosn’s acquisitions, including advising on the whole spectrum of M&A, due diligence and making sure deals close quickly.
Reflecting on his work with Greosn, Matt said:
Since being instructed on their very first acquisition ten years ago, we’ve all become friends. Working with Greosn has been a pleasure and I’m proud of the relationship we have built over the years. Having worked on many acquisitions with Alex, Martyn, Matt and the Greosn team, it’s so rewarding to see their business growing rapidly.
Our commercial property team has also advised Greosn on commercial leases, property finance and sale and purchase agreements in relation to their acquisitions. Paul Davies, Head of Commercial Property, who ensured Greosn agreed fair and practical terms, said:
Alex and Matt are always a pleasure to work with. It’s exciting working with such a growth-focused business, and even more exciting being a part of their continued success!
Our solicitors have also provided legal support across areas of employment, corporate and commercial law to make sure their legal foundations were reviewed.
When asked what it’s been like working with Matt, Paul and the rest of the Harper James team, Chairman Alex Newey, said:
Matt and Paul understand the brief, and they understand our business. Their attention to detail and joined-up approach is excellent. They’re able to understand exactly what we need and the vision of the group going forward. Growing at this rate presents some risk, so having a legal team that appreciates this and supports us with the legal advice we need to take on every challenge in our mission to scale is key.
Greosn is continuing to grow strength by strength and it has ambitious plans in all agriculture and horticulture markets.
Reflecting on their journey so far and offering words of advice to business owners in a similar scale-up position, Alex said:
We’ve got a great team surrounded by great business partners. Having employees and business partners you can trust and believe in allows you to be brave and having a lawyer who understands the vision will put you in good stead to work towards scaling and preparing your business for that next step. It also makes acquisitions a whole lot smoother!