It was November 1975 when James Howard and Neil Westwood were faced with redundancy following the announcement that national fruit and vegetable distributors, LAC, were to go bust at the end of the week. It was Tuesday so they had to think fast! They decided that by using each of their trade contacts they could scrape together enough custom to support them both. All they needed was some money to purchase stock, and a lorry. James managed to raise half of the money and Neil had to sell his 10 month old, white, Datsun 100A for his. They were able to hire a lorry from Alan Wiseman, of The Tavern Garage, who also leased them an old shipping container, in his yard, to use as storage. It was then that Maldon Fruit Supplies was born.
45 YEARS AND COUNTING.
A year later James and Neil bought their first lorry together, a Bedford TK with a Luton body.
As the wholesale business continued to expand, more space was needed and so they moved operations to a barn at John Marven’s Riding Stables. The company then tried it’s hand at retail and opened a shop at the top of Maldon High Street, next to All Saints Church. It soon took over another fruit and veg shop and started up a sporting goods shop, called Maldon Sports, as well!
Over the years Maldon Fruit’s wholesale business has continued to expand and the company has had to move a few times. It first went back to its roots as James and Neil moved into the old LAC warehouses at Hall Road, Heybridge. They then decided to close the retail shops and move to an even larger premises at Bentalls Industrial Estate in Heybridge. It was there that the company first began doing transportation for a local potato merchant. Maldon Fruit's drivers would collect the pallets of produce from farms in the daytime and store it at the warehouse. The produce was then delivered into each of the London markets of an evening, after which the stock was purchased to bring back for wholesale the next morning. We used to do this work a couple of nights a week but, as with the wholesale side of the business, the transportation continued to grow and James and Neil soon discovered that they needed more space for storage and to run multiple lorries!
Maldon Fruit continued at Bentalls for a while, before moving to Furzelands Farm Barn, at Langford, where we now have plenty of storage and adequate space for all of our vehicles.
In 2009, James and his wife Angie retired from the business, with Neil and Carole taking over ownership.
Sadly, in 2012, Carole Ann Westwood passed away from illness leaving Neil as sole proprietor of the company.
Neil would like to thank every associate during Maldon Fruit Supplies’ 40+ year history. Thank you for your custom, for all of your hard work, and for your assistance in helping to build the business to that which it is today. Here’s to the next 40+ years! Hurrah!