THE founder of Yorkshire family business Herbs Unlimited has passed the baton on to her son as the business looks to drive growth and rise to the challenges of Brexit.

Philip Dodd, formerly operations director, takes over as managing director of the speciality grower from his mother Alison Dodd, who founded the company in 1992.

Mrs Dodd will continue in a part-time business development role.

The business, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, grows herbs, salads and edible flowers on its farm at Sandhutton, near Thirsk. It supplies the catering, hospitality, food manufacturing and wholesale sectors nationally.

Mr Dodd said: “This is an exciting moment and a new chapter for the business. Mum has left some big footsteps to fill but I am delighted to have this opportunity to make my own mark on the company after working alongside her for so long.

“Horticulture is a fast-moving and competitive sector and, with the management appointments we have made over the last year, we are ideally positioned to build on our successes and rise to the challenges presented by Brexit.”

After graduating in land and farm management from Harper Adams, he worked with East Kent-based fresh producer grower Intercrop for three years before joining Herbs Unlimited in 2007 in a production management role.

Promoted to the board in 2011, he has been responsible for day-to-day activities in the pack house and on the farm since 2012, while Mrs Dodd focused on marketing and sales.

Together, they developed Herbs Unlimited into a £4m turnover business and the farm has expanded from 30 to 120 acres, employing 49 permanent staff.

As part of the firm’s development strategy, local farmer and long-time business partner Trevor Bosomworth has been appointed finance director.

Mr Dodd said: “Our key point of difference remains our speciality herbs and edible flowers.

“The ever-growing demand for UK produce means that we grow as much as we can here in North Yorkshire. However, during the winter months we import from carefully selected overseas partners.

“Investment in further infrastructure will help us to counter higher exchange rates and resulting higher import costs.

“Continuous innovation remains key to our success and we are currently trialling LED lighting and hydroponics to extend our growing season, along with the expansion of our polytunnels.

“The majority of our produce is hand-picked and packed and following on from the success of our current apprenticeship scheme we hope to extend it further, there are great opportunities in both sides of the business.”

In 2016, Herbs Unlimited invested £200,000 in new machinery to increase the output of its pack house. This has enabled it to optimise opportunities for growth in wholesale markets and through the increasing nationwide popularity of food boxes.

It also invested in a second tranche of solar panels to increase the company’s sustainability.