Veg box retailer Abel & Cole is reportedly on the brink of being sold to William Jackson Food Group.

Jackson’s swoop for Abel & Cole – founded in 1988 by former barrister Keith Abel - is a surprise move as Jackson specialises in food manufacturing and supply rather than retail.

Abel & Cole went through a major restructure in February 2010 involving a debt-for-equity swap which saw Lloyds TSB take a majority stake in the business. It came as founder Keith Abel took control of the day-to-day running of the business which saw it return to growth.  

In the year to August, Abel & Cole’s EBITDA earnings stood at £4.6m on turnover of £46.5m, according to the Financial Times, which said it expected the business to sell for tens of millions of pounds.

William Jackson owns fresh produce suppliers Parripak Foods and Hazeldene Foods as well as Jackson’s Bakery and the Aunt Bessie’s brand.