Our Heritage

About Vitax

Vitax Limited is a fourth generation family-owned business

Our Heritage2

About Vitax

Vitax Limited is a fourth generation family-owned business

Our Heritage3

About Vitax

Vitax Limited is a fourth generation family-owned business

About Us

Our Heritage

Vitax Limited is a fourth generation family-owned business with roots laid down long before the modern 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, South London. Mr Richards was a pioneer manufacturer of insecticides and supplier of horticultural sundries.

During the Second World War, my grandfather, Frank Henry Gooding, a
commercial tomato grower and sales agent based on Guernsey, was forcefully 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 on Borough High Street as the company headquarters.

My father Brian, and my uncle Douglas, together with my aunts Valerie and Suzette, joined Synchemicals. As the gardening market burgeoned in line with improved living standards, the business developed a portfolio of garden and professional products throughout the 50s, 60s and 70s. 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 Ormskirk, Lancashire, which had become part of Steetley Chemicals. Vitax was, and is, the holder of a highly valued Royal Warrant Appointment as supplier of fertilisers to HM The Queen’s household. At the same time the decision was made to trade all the Synchemicals products under the generic Vitax name.

Fertiliser production was moved to new premises 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 grass line marking liquids and marking machines for the sports industry. The business has continued to grow both in the UK and overseas markets.

During this time in 2006 my eldest daughter Anja joined the business and she has made steady progress in Finance, Legal and Administration to become our Group Company Secretary. In 2008 my son-in-law Andy Gurney joined the business in commercial sales, progressing more recently into production and general management.

2010 saw the relocation of our retail distribution operations from Coalville together with the retail manufacturing processes from Woodville to a now extended production and distribution facility at Skelmersdale, Lancashire. As a result of this major reorganisation, Vitax made significant progress in reducing its carbon footprint, with the majority of customers receiving their deliveries from a single point of manufacture and distribution managed by an extremely able management team.

In 2013 we acquired Slug Gone, an organic slug and snail deterrent made from 100% wool waste. This unique wool pellet is approved for use by the Soil Association and proudly supports British Wool.

In 2014 both our Skelmersdale and Coalville sites gained full certification of ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. This shows the company’s commitment to quality, focus, and to the management of the impact of our operations on the environment.

In 2014 we purchased Organico Limited, the manufacturer of 6X and Groworganic. 6X is a traditional unique fibrous garden fertiliser and compost produced from chicken manure sourced from local farms in Somerset.

During 2015/6 storage and production operations were extended at the Skelmersdale site and the laboratory facility was upgraded.

Paul Gooding

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