THE man who led the remodelling of Littleton and Badsey Growers and turned it into a thriving modern business has completed 25 years as chairman.

To mark the occasion, Bill Arnold was presented with an inscribed hip flask and a pen on behalf of the board and staff of the new company, BHGS.

Mr Arnold, of Ombersley, near Worcester, joined the then committee of LBG at Blackminster in the 1970s, became a member of the board when it was formed in 1986 and appointed chairman in 1987.

LBG at that time was in a precarious position, deeply in debt.

Negotiations had already started to sell off the produce section of the growers’ co-operative founded at Blackminster in 1908 and those were quickly completed, a new company being formed with LBG continuing with the sundries, with a turnover of about one-and a half million pounds, and Glas Glover the sales. The new produce sales company ceased trading in 1991 when it was taken over and LBG took back the herbery.

“We carried on trading in horticultural sundries and built up the business until we got back on the right side,” Mr Arnold said.

In 2000 the idea of selling LBG was floated and what Mr Arnold described as “a very lively”

meeting of shareholders was held in Evesham Town Hall when members voted not to sell and a newly formed board, still under the chairmanship of Mr Arnold, board given a year to turn the business around.

“We set about carrying on,” Mr Arnold said. “The opportunity came up in 2001 to buy the premises here on Vale Park from GMS. This brought us into the 21st century with purposebuilt premises and an existing management structure.

“Since then, business has continued to grow and we now have a turnover of £14 million operating from three sites, having grown organically and by acquisition of sites at Hayle in Cornwall and Chichester in West Sussex, with a staff of nearly 60.

“It really has been a success story, all down to the efforts of the board members and all of the staff who used to be at LBG and who are now members of BHGS.

“When I got involved we were operating just around the Vale of Evesham but now we are also in south west England and the Midlands. The company has become very prosperous, paying dividends every year since the new business was formed, and we can continue to look forward to a successful future.”

Mr Arnold said he had seen big changes on the communications side with the introduction of IT, the demise of the smaller growers and the way the business had changed from 80 per cent in favour of outdoor veg and glasshouse growing and 20 per cent bedding stock and nursery production to the other way round.

Of the presentation, Mr Arnold said: “I really appreciated that.”