Posted: 23/05/2019

Struggling Premier Cheese bought out but La Cave trades on

Premier Cheese’s sister business La Cave à Fromage has not been sold and remains unaffected by the wholesaler changing hands

Wholesaler Premier Cheese has been bought from administration by fresh produce supplier Premier Fruits, but the sale will not affect sister retail business La Cave à Fromage.

Set up in 1998 by Amnon Paldi and Eric Charriaux, Premier Cheese went into administration at the end of March – citing a drop in sales and increased operating costs – with many British artisan cheesemakers among its creditors, along with Premier Fruits, which supplied it with butter.

The business was immediately acquired by Premier Fruits in a pre-pack deal that included the main Bicester depot in Oxfordshire, securing more than 40 jobs. 

Paldi and Charriaux continue to work in the business, which is now known as Premier Speciality Foods. The La Cave à Fromage shops in London and Hove are separate companies, owned by Paldi and Charriaux, so were unaffected and continue to trade.

“Premier Cheese was too small to procure [stock] at the size they required for their profit margins,” said Richard Hickson, managing director of Premier Fruits, which is headquartered at New Covent Garden Market. He also cited the weak value of the pound, rising insurance costs and high rents as contributing factors.

Administrator Quantuma said the company ran into difficulties following a fall in sales and the rising costs of depots. 

Work is underway to upgrade the Bicester site with new charcuterie curing rooms and plans to work towards SALSA and BRC accreditation. 

“We have a lot of infrastructure that will help move the business forward,” said Hickson. “We’re looking to introduce the business to some of our existing partners, including airlines, hotel groups and cruise liners.”

This story appeared in the May issue of Fine Food Digest. You can read more on the digital edition here.

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