Vitax is a third generation family-owned business with roots which go back long before the gardening industry as it is known today even existed.
Our origins can be traced back to G H Richards Limited, established in 1880 and based in Bermondsey, London. Richards was a pioneer manufacturer of insecticides and supplier of horticultural sundries.
During the second World War, my grandfather, Frank Henry Gooding, a tomato grower on Guernsey, was evacuated to London. After the war he became involved with, and later took control of, Synchemicals Limited, a company formed in this period of austerity and rationing to promote the use of growth hormone products to growers and nurseries.
Synchemicals originally sold products to G H Richards Limited but later acquired the business and adopted its Bermondsey base as the company headquarters.
My father, Brian, and my uncle, Douglas, joined Synchemicals and, as the gardening market burgeoned in line with improved living standards, they developed a portfolio of garden and professional products throughout the 50′s, 60′s and 70′s. These included the introduction of the now famous “Nippon” ant killer brand. I became the third generation of the family to be involved in the business when I joined the Company in 1980.
As the business expanded nationally, it became increasingly cumbersome to deliver to all our customers from South-east London and in 1988 we relocated to larger purpose-built premises in Coalville, Leicestershire.
At the same time we purchased the business of Vitax Limited, a well-established manufacturer of fertilisers, based in Skelmersdale, Lancashire. Vitax was the holder of a highly valued Royal Warrant as supplier to HM The Queen’s household and the decision was made to trade under the Vitax brand name.
Fertiliser production continued at Skelmersdale, and in 1993 the business secured the quality production standard BS5750/ISO9002. Chemical and powder filling requirements continued to be met by a production unit based in Woodville, Derbyshire.
A joint venture with Irish company Clairstone Co Ltd in 1990 provided a valuable entry into the growing media market. Here we have concentrated on supplying high quality compost, marketed under the Q4 brand, to both the amateur and professional markets.
In 2005 the group expanded further through the acquisition of Suffolk-based Supaturf Products Limited, a respected manufacturer of quality line marking liquids and marking machines for the sports industry. The business has continued to grow both in the UK and overseas markets.
The latest phase of our development, in 2010, saw the relocation of distribution operations from Coalville and manufacturing processes from Woodville to an extended state-of-the-art facility at Skelmersdale. As a result of this reorganisation, Vitax has made significant progress in reducing its carbon footprint, with the majority of customers now receiving their deliveries from a single point of manufacture and distribution.