[Image: John Holland]

The North East is set to welcome a pioneering new initiative in the fresh food market which will act as a one-stop ‘hub’ for fresh produce growers, traders, and customers in the region.

The new facility will supersede the existing North East Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable Market on Team Valley which has been in existence for 51 years but has suffered from a lack of investment.

Spearheaded by regional entrepreneur, John Holland, CEO of J.R. Holland Group, and currently undergoing a £3m investment programme, the facility is due to open its doors in early 2021 and will be based in a prime location in the North East’s premier business estate, Team Valley.

The multi-million-pound investment, which is expected to generate and secure 60 year-round jobs, will develop the former MAN lorry depot into a bespoke and bustling covered fresh produce hub of over 25,000 sq. ft in size occupying the centre of a two-acre site.

Simon Haggie of Knight Frank acquired the property on behalf of John Holland and the building works will be project managed by Ian Tew, also of Knight Frank. Once complete, the work will transform the space into a fresh produce market which will operate as a wholesale provider to fruit and vegetable retailers, restaurants, hospitals, caterers, schools, universities, and more.

The new site will become by far and away the largest importer and distributor of fresh produce in the North of England, with an estimated 100,000 packages of produce expected to be sold through the facility every week. All produce will be sourced on an exclusive basis direct from suppliers in the north east with exotics from around the globe. A key ambition behind the initiative is to invest in and form long-term, robust relationships with producers and farmers, ensuring provenance, and guaranteeing full traceability and value.

Due to operate seven days a week with extended hours to maximise customer accessibility, the fresh produce hub will celebrate produce such as kumquats from Kenya and local leeks from Morpeth.

John Holland, said, “My dream is to create a one stop, fresh produce hub of the future. I want to bring the fresh produce community together under one roof where they can be inspired, where they can network and do business together. The fresh produce hub will be a tidy, clean and inspirational one stop marketplace that will shorten supply chains, reduce food miles and ultimately drive forward our industry into a new era of growth. The specialist knowledge and customer and supplier relationships we have developed through 40 years in the sector are fundamental to the core of our business, and I want to build upon this to create a new go-to place for everybody’s fresh produce needs.”

Ian Tew, Partner at Knight Frank, Newcastle, said: “We are really excited to get to work on extending the property to create temperature-controlled zones, an improved area for deliveries and a covered customer collection point.”

The new development, which will have unrestricted vehicle access and parking facilities around its entire perimeter, will also feature product specific multi-temperature-controlled zones to facilitate the daily deliveries of fresh fruit and vegetables. In addition, within the development there will be a Barista served, European inspired sit-in coffee bar, intended to aid networking and create a sense of community.