Riverford Organic is set to extend its market lead over Abel & Cole with the purchase of the UK's third-largest box scheme operator.

Riverford has bought BoxFresh Organics and its wholesale arm Flights Orchard Organics in a deal prompted by the death of the latter's co-founder, Mike Hamilton, in May.

The Shropshire and Herefordshire-based operator will add 4,000 deliveries a week to Riverford's estimated 42,000. It would boost Riverford's estimated £44m turnover by 10%, added Riverford MD Jack Slatter. "We are a good fit with BoxFresh customers," he said. "And in areas we already operate in, it eliminates a competitor and doubles our wholesale business."

Under the deal, which will give it a comfortable lead over Abel & Cole's 30,000 to 35,000 weekly deliveries and estimated £35.5m turnover, Riverford will actually supply produce to Abel & Cole, which is a Flights customer.

BoxFresh-branded boxes will continue to be delivered to customers until 23 September, after which Riverford will take over, supplying the additional customers from its Wash Farm site in Devon and its Sacrewell site in Peterborough.

The acquisition price for the box delivery part of the business will be based on an earn-out arrangement under which Riverford will pay an undisclosed amount for each customer who transfers from BoxFresh to Riverford. The wholesale business was bought for an undisclosed sum.

Upper House Fruit Farm another part of the BoxFresh business will be retained by BoxFresh's former owners, Vicky Hamilton, Des Walker and Debra Reece. An agreement has been struck to supply Riverford with organic apples, plums and pears.

Walker said he had great respect for Riverford's approach. "They share our principles and values of good food, produced in an environmentally sound way while supporting family farms," he said.

There are likely to be some redundancies among the 16 BoxFresh personnel.