L_R George Heler, Simon Spurrell

Source: The Cheshire Cheese Company

The supplier hit the headlines in January 2021 after halting exports to the block due to post-Brexit bureacracy. Pictured (l to r) George Heler and Simon Spurrell

Cheshire-based cheesemaker Joseph Heler has acquired fellow northwest of England cheese producer The Cheshire Cheese Company – allowing the business to once again access the EU market.

CCC’s MD Simon Spurrell hit the headlines in January 2021 when he revealed the cheesemaker – which had previously boasted a strong D2C operation to the EU – had been forced to halt shipments to the bloc after losing 20% of his sales overnight, with additional costs and bureaucracy around new post-Brexit export health certificate rules making exports “unviable”.

The deal with Nantwich-headquartered Joseph Heler will reopen this market for CCC via its existing operations in central Europe and mean it will avoid having to face “extortionate fees or worrying that orders will get returned”, the supplier said.

Macclesfield-based CCC – which was established in 2010 to produce cheddar and Cheshire cheese waxed truckles in a range of flavours – has seen 400% growth in revenues since 2019, making it one of the largest online cheese retailers in the UK and “a desirable acquisition”, the cheesemaker added.

It will now also become one of Joseph Heler’s “flagship” consumer facing brands alongside its low calorie, low fat and high protein cheese, Eatlean, the two businesses said.

Spurrell – reportedly known as “that annoying cheese man” by Boris Johnson due to his complaints over post-Brexit export bureaucracy – will retain an equitable stake in the business and remains as MD of the business.

All of the company’s head office, production and warehouse staff will be retained while 14 additional full and part time jobs will also be created on the back of this acquisition.

“We’re delighted to welcome the Cheshire Cheese Company to the Heler Group,” said Joseph Heler group MD George Heler.

“It has a fantastic product and has worked hard to grow a loyal following across the UK. Cheshire Cheese Company’s wealth of experience and expertise will provide plentiful synergies which is very exciting. Together, we’re confident we can extend its reach across the UK and Europe.”

The value of the deal was undisclosed. It follows the acquisition by Joseph Heler of north Wales-based cheese business Futura Foods Wales in August.

“This strategic alliance has come at a very important time for the business,” said Spurrell. “Post-Brexit legislation meant our plans to operate in mainland Europe were halted – this arrangement will see us able to grow with increased production and fulfilment capacity and a worldwide reach.”

Much of the confusion around export to the EU that were faced by CCC still continue for many UK businesses.

The Grocer reported earlier this month that Met Foods, which owns plant-based yoghurt brands Nush and Cocos Organic, lost up to £15,000-worth of stock after French border officials unloading a shipment off a chilled truck to test its organic status, before placing in an ambient warehouse.

Meanwhile, meat exporters also face new UK-government devised hurdles from December, which will change pre-export requirements from a farmer declaration to a veterinary attestation – with a failure to comply set to stop producers obtaining an export health certificate.

The British Meat Processors Association last month branded the policy change a “completely unnecessary” piece of “British-built bureaucracy”.