Mushroom takeover given go-ahead

HOR 040711 Sussex Mushrooms Ltd. photo by derek martin
HOR 040711 Sussex Mushrooms Ltd. photo by derek martin

THE TAKEOVER of Sussex Mushrooms has been given the go-ahead by the Office of Fair Trading.

The merger of the Thakeham-based company with Monaghan Mushrooms was scrutinised by the Office of Fair Trading in relation to UK competition law under the Enterprise Act 2002.

As reported in the County Times in August, Sussex Mushrooms announced in a statement that ‘the assets and contracts had been transferred to a new company, Thakeham Mushrooms Ltd, owned by Monaghan Mushrooms’, resulting in 400 jobs being saved.

At the time of the takeover, Sussex Mushrooms, the OFT has said, was on the ‘brink of insolvency’.

In a statement released in September, Ronnie Wilson, chairman and chief executive of the Republic of Ireland-based company, said: “Thakeham is attractive to us because of its strategic location in the South East.

“Monaghan has a strong track record of successfully growing businesses and is committed to the long-term future of Sussex Mushrooms at Thakeham, delivering future growth, expansion and new jobs.”

The OFT ruled this month that the deal does not need to be investigated further.

A spokesperson for the OFT said: “A full text of the decision will be published in the New Year.”

The mushroom site has been at the centre of controversy over plans to build 146 houses on the land. Back in August, when the takeover was announced, the development plans were disputed.

Objectors said that the development was a way to gain funds to help Sussex Mushrooms. However, with the financial backing of Monaghan Mushrooms, objectors believed the future was secured.

At the time, a spokesperson for Horsham District Council said: “We are currently taking legal advice on the question of whether the change in ownership has any bearing on the planning applications which were considered by our planning committee in April.”

HDC recently added: “We are awaiting a revised application in respect of the mushroom production which is anticipated to be submitted shortly.”

Sussex Mushrooms and Monaghan Mushrooms have not responded to the County Times’ requests for comment.