Abel & Cole Cash In


Abel & Cole was the first company to make home deliveries of organic fruit and vegetables in the the UK. Started in 1988 with £2,000 worth of travellers' cheques, Ken Abel began delivering boxes of farm-fresh organic vegetables to subscribers' front doors. The timing was perfect: people were getting interested in healthy eating and the provenance of their vegetables and wanted something better than what the supermarket could offer. Suddenly strange and ugly vegetables were showing up and recipes for kale and pak choi were frantically being exchanged amongst neighbours. Now they deliver to 48,000 households, with sales of £28 million.

Sounds profitable, so much so that they have now sold an estimated third of the business to a private equity firm allowing the company to expand its service across Britain and increase the range of products on offer. The deal values the company at about £35 million and as Mr Abel owns 75 per cent, he is likely to have landed a windfall of at least £7 million ($14M). As for whether taking investment from an industry known for its ruthlessness will change his company, Mr Abel says that dropping the core values makes no business sense. "It would be completely insane for anyone to invest in our business if they didn't get that," he says. "It would be like the Bodyshop scrapping the ban on testing on animals." :: Guardian

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