Independence sparks new growth plan

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Bosses have acquired 100 per cent of Fulton Foods, the Barnsley-based retailer which started out with a market stall 50 years ago and has grown into a major discount grocery chain in the North and the Midlands.

Managing director Kevin Gunter and finance director Karen Rees have bought out venture capital group 3i’s stake in parent group Frozen Value, which has its headquarters in Darton and was established by Jack Fulton in 1960.

Following a management buy-in 14 years ago, led by Kevin Gunter and backed by 3i, it has grown into a £50 million turnover business, employing 850 people, including more than 70 in Darton.

Now, management has bought out 3i’s minority stake, with backing from Yorkshire Bank and is planning expansion.

Kevin Gunter said: “The funding is allowing us to secure an exit for 3i and will enable us to grow the business at a faster rate with a minimum of eight new stores and 60 jobs being created each year.”

Yorkshire Bank Corporate and Structured Finance director, Mike Selina, said: “Fulton Foods has a well defined and compelling retail proposition.

“It is well placed to help consumers manage their budgets which are undoubtedly going to come under pressure with VAT and other tax rises and uncertainties over job prospects.

“Yorkshire Bank is backing an experienced management team, led by Kevin Gunter who has a proven track record of success achieved by offering customers great value.

“The business is in good hands and well positioned for growth.”