Chilly growth for Bristol organics trader

One of the leading UK wholesalers of organic and Fairtrade products is replacing and expanding its storage facilities for chilled and frozen foods using a loan from Co-operative & Community Finance.

Essential Trading in Bristol manufactures and distributes sustainable wholefoods, ecological household products and cruelty free body care items across Europe and internationally. It stocks over 5,000 product lines.

Essential Trading is a workers’ co-operative with 75 members. It was set up in 1991 by the merger of two wholefood co-ops in Bristol and Bath (Harvest and Nova). Harvest Foods had been trading since 1971 and the name is still used for Essential’s two retail outlets.

The merger was successful and Essential has grown steadily, helped at key stages with loans from Co-operative & Community Finance. The recent loan is to rebuild and expand the storage facilities for chilled and frozen foods in its warehouse.

Richard Crook, Essential’s Finance Co-Director, explained: “We are doubling our cold storage capacity and replacing all the units with more energy-efficient equipment. We’ve been planning this for some time and it’s coincided with a significant upturn in sales. They’ve increased by 10% this year and we are expecting to turnover £13m.”

Ian Taylor, our Investment Manager, said: “Essential Trading, and the two co-ops that merged to create it, are one of our longest established borrowers. We’ve helped to finance various expansions over the years and we’re delighted to do it again. This is a very successful workers’ co-operative.”