Farmison steak and caviar basket

Farmison is currently backed by Scotland-based PE firm Inverleith

The private equity owner of premium online meat retailer Farmison is seeking a buyer or new financing for the lossmaking business, with administration a possibility, The Grocer has learned. 

Inverleith engaged corporate finance firm FRP Advisory last month to run a sales process for the DTC butcher.

A number of interested parties are currently in talks with FRP, according to a City source with knowledge of the process.

Tom Hixson Farmison Ltd has been registered on Companies House, with the new vehicle incorporated yesterday (28 March 2023) and Thomas Hixson listed as the sole director.

The Grocer understands this is preparation for a deal, including potentially a pre-pack administration, with London-based meat wholesaler Tom Hixson of Smithfield. The business - a third-generation butcher operating since the 1960s - supplies high-end restaurants and also operates a DTC website.

Scotland-based Inverleith, which also owns struggling supermarket chain Planet Organic, acquired a majority stake in Farmison in early 2022

Farmison was founded in 2011 by John Pallagi and Lee Simmonds with a mission to encourage UK consumers to ‘eat better meat’. The Yorkshire-headquartered retailer works with local farmers across the UK to source sustainable heritage and rare breeds. 


Sales boomed at the business during the pandemic as demand for online food shopping soared. However, despite sales doubling to £12m in 2021, Farmison plunged £2.6m into the red after making a profit in 2020. 

The business secured about £2m in a successful crowdfunding round launched in November last year but cancelled the raise before taking the money – a situation similar to Inverleith-backed Planet Organic. The Grocer reported last month that the round was pulled as a result of a change to the growth plan. 

However, it is understood Pallagi vetoed the crowd round using his powers under the share purchase agreement with Inverleith. 

The City source said Inverleith and lender Santander appointed recovery firm FRP in February to run a sales process to find a buyer or new financing. 

There were a number of interested parties still involved in talks with FRP as of last week, however, if a deal isn’t rapidly completed the business is expected to enter administration, the source added. 

When Farmison appointed KPMG in 2021 to raise investment, the business said it was targeting sales of £100m as consumers demanded more sustainable, ethical and high-quality meat. 


As well as selling direct online, the brand also supplies high-end retailers such as Fortnum & Mason and Harrods, as well as recipe box company Mindful Chef. 

Based in Ripon in North Yorkshire, Farmison employs more than 100 staff – including its own Michelin-star chef. 

Former Asda boss Andy Bond was an early seed investor in the business, which also scored £500k in early backing from Finance Yorkshire in 2012. 

According to market data firm Pitchbook, Finance Yorkshire and Bond sold their stakes in the company in 2021 to an undisclosed VC firm for an undisclosed sum. 

Inverleith secured a majority stake in the business via a leveraged buyout in early 2022. 

Accounts filed at Companies House for the year ended 31 December 2021 showed the business had a bank loan with Santander of £2.5m, as well as a bank overdraft of more than £1m. 

The first repayment of the loan was due to be paid on 31 March 2023, followed by quarterly payments of £150k, according to the accounts. 

Inverleith and Farmison could not be reached for comment, while FRP has not yet responded.

Tom Hixson of Smithfield could not be reached for comment.