Our History

Pauleys haven’t always been the wholesale fruit and veg suppliers we are today. The business was founded by William Pauley all the way back in 1925, and at that time it was just a small greengrocers shop in the middle of Stamford, Lincolnshire.

This small village shop – and market stall every Friday and Saturday – developed a loyal following. William Pauley would never see anyone go without food and would virtually give away vegetables to those who were particularly hard up during the Great Depression. This meant that when times improved, the customers stayed loyal!

By 1985 – after 60 successful years in business – Pauleys made the shift from being a grocery shop to being grocery wholesalers, selling and delivering direct to businesses in the foodservice industry.

But this change of tact meant that the old shop was a bit too small to cope, so the team moved five miles up the road to a warehouse in the village of Essendine. After six years in the wholesale game, we needed yet more space. So we packed up and moved to another warehouse… 400 metres over the road!

After another five great years supplying fresh produce to restaurants, pubs, hotels, caterers, cafés and other food outlets, we made our final move in 1996 to a huge warehouse in Corby, Northamptonshire. And that’s where we’ve stayed! We’ve needed a couple of extensions over the years – two 20,000sqft extensions to be exact – but our Corby site has suited us well and allowed Pauleys to grow significantly.

In fact, Pauleys performed so well that in October 2002 we caught the eye of Brakes – one of the biggest players in the wholesale food market. The Brakes team acquired Pauleys and set about embedding the brand as the fresh produce specialist of the Brakes Group.

By 2006, we were so well integrated that we made the switch to use Brakes’ fleet of vehicles to reach our customers. So we started delivering our produce into Brakes distribution centres in bulk, leaving their team to handle the logistics from there.

A couple of years later though, we hit a bit of a slump… We were struggling with our brand identity as part of the Brakes Group after so long as a family business, and sales dropped as a result. So we made a change! We upped the quality of all our fresh produce and introduced a wider range of products. We even put our name to it by slapping our logo on the packaging as an extra guarantee of quality. The change paid off as the very next year we won the Re:Fresh award for Best Foodservice Supplier!

As our business got back to growth and success, Bain Capital – the owners of the Brakes Group – invested in one of the market’s leading fresh food wholesalers, Fresh Direct. With this deal, a new fresh food wholesale company was created that included Fresh Direct, M&J Seafood, Wild Harvest and (you guessed it) Pauleys!

So nowadays, after 90 years in the fresh produce world, Pauleys is a critical part of one of the biggest and best fresh food supply companies in the UK. We still deliver to our 10,000-strong customer base through Brakes, but our team of 130 works closely with the other three brands in the Fresh Direct Group to offer new and existing customers the very best fresh food offer on the market.

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