History & Growth

A brief timeline of our history, key moments and plans for future growth


Our future plans

Arthur David has four key objectives for the coming three years. They ensure that we have a people-first strategy, making our people and their wellbeing a priority.

We also have a stringent ‘on-time, in-full‘ target of 98.5% which means we will be delivering the highest levels of service to our clients.

It is important that our business remains sustainable. Another key objective is the development of a sustainability strategy. Delivering environmental improvements in areas such as; transportation, waste and recycling.

We will be working on reducing any debt exposure the business may have to ensure that Arthur David remains financially strong and ready to build on our next 60 years!


Our future plans

Arthur David has four key objectives for the coming three years. They ensure that we have a people-first strategy, making our people and their wellbeing a priority.

We also have a stringent ‘on-time, in-full‘ target of 98.5% which means we will be delivering the highest levels of service to our clients.

It is important that our business remains sustainable. Another key objective is the development of a sustainability strategy. Delivering environmental improvements in areas such as; transportation, waste and recycling.

We will be working on reducing any debt exposure the business may have to ensure that Arthur David remains financially strong and ready to build on our next 60 years!


How it all began

In 1962 Arthur David spent £3,500 on a property in Hill Street, Totterdown and established A. David – Fruit & Potato Merchant. Arthur worked alone, storing stock in the basement, delivering in his old post office van and in any spare moment was mentored by Alfie Howe who taught Arthur the art of selling. In that same year our now MD Phil David was born. So Arthur really had his hands full!

The next few years were busy! Arthur bought a flatbed Austin Lorry, followed by a Bedford and then a Bedford TK. He was buying fruit and veg in Baldwin Street and selling locally and in Melksham to village shops, schools and hospitals. 20 hour days were not uncommon but all of his hard work was paying off. Arthur was building a great reputation and in 1967 sold an entire lorry full of sprouts!

1969 marked the move to Cotham and just a year later we moved to Hillside Farm, our current Headquarters. Arthur David was the first company to offer prepared vegetables in Bristol and we are proud to say we were even selling chips to M&S. But even then, Arthur David still made the types of decisions we are applauded for today, if our heads get turned we double down to protect our attention and our quality. The team focussed on the Wholesale side of the business while allocating specific people and funds to develop the prepared produce department at Hillside and kept quality and customer satisfaction at the fore. By 1972 we were running 14 Bedford lorries and employing 20 staff. We had a fantastically supportive team who all felt they were part of the family – even little Phil was working with his Dad (although he probably should have been at school!)

We have always been proudly part of the communities we work in and serve so it’s no surprise that in 1977 we decorated a float for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee and paraded it through Bishop Sutton.

What made these years so important


Company to offer prepared vegetables in Bristol


Bedford vans


Employed members of staff


A decade of growth

In the 80’s we grew to a team of over 30 people, all working hard alongside Arthur and the family to grow the company and our customers. It worked! In 1982 we began serving three of the major hospitals in the area including the Bath Royal United, The Bristol Royal Infirmary and Southmead Hospital. In 1983 we began supplying Brewers Fayre Pubs and by 1984 we were working with a huge number of schools in Bristol. We were on fire!

What made this decade so important


Members of staff


Hospitals we supply


Reaping the rewards of our investments

By the 90’s we were a team of 120 people and growing. While all around us businesses were worried about Y2K, we moved into a market unit and did away with our previous sales model. Jon Evans joined the business and we received our first STS food safety accreditation for our preparation room – the first certificate of many. As we grew, we moved into a bigger unit in the fruit market and were rewarded for our investment with the Eldridge Pope Brewery contract – this was big business for us.

2004 Saw the purchase of a new distribution centre at Hengrove and the beginning of a thriving relationship with PSL. In 2005 however, we embraced even further change with a shift in our vehicle strategy and the launch of a new strapline adorning all of our vans and assets – delivering a world of difference.

What made this decade so important


Members of staff


Food safety accreditation


Tough times – but we are tougher!

2006 was a tough year for us, a very tough year. We lost a lot of money and the result was the first ever redundancies in 2007. When you are a family business losing anyone is hard but making people redundant is even harder. We did not sit on our laurels but joined the United Consortium, enabling us to serve Hilton Hotel Group and begin to grow again. We invested in ourselves once again, backing our customers and our people. We launched our first Fine Foods range led by Simon Cocking and appointed Daren Hill, making us all health and safety mad! We also consolidated our properties so we prepared the farm to be our new home for the business.

March of 2009 was a full on month with all units moving to the farm from Hengrove, in fact many of the management team slept at the farm for a week to ensure they were around should any of the team need them – at any hour. We began buying Cheddar Valley strawberries from Graham Warren and in 2010 installed a new version of ISSAC, our monitoring and management system – rumour has it this led to another week-long sleepover at the farm! This period also saw us purchase automated scales for the pick room and celebrate our very first order from Boston Tea Party.

Our fleet of branded HGVs was again renewed and we took to the roads in a new way by sponsoring the Chew Valley 10k for the first time. Ensuring every runner was renewed with an Arthur David banana at the finish line.

We built new offices on the farm for the accounts team and began sponsoring our first category in the Bristol Good Food Awards.

We took a group of client chefs to Rungis market in France too. Rungis is the largest fresh produce market in Europe selling meat, fish, cheese and fruit ‘n’ veg. We also started working with Rob Carter. Rob was initially our business coach and later became a non executive director to Arthur David. He helps us stay focused and supports our strategic direction.

In 2014 we attended our first Action Coach Conference. These conferences were always uplifting and inspiring. We learnt a lot about making our people and ourselves be more accountable & responsible. It taught us the importance of having focus and working on the business not in the business.

We were also the headline sponsor of the Good Food Awards, the team completed a sponsored bike ride for charity, and we sponsored Exeter Chiefs Rugby.

2015 saw us purchase another business. Andy Moore had a family run fruit & veg supply business that operated from a base in Chard. We visited Andy when we heard he was looking to sell and took over all of his customers offering them a much larger range of products and the advantages that came with a larger business such as chilled delivery vehicles, customer contact centre and earlier deliveries. During a meeting where we were exploring the importance of purpose and core values we were made aware of a customer that so strong believed in her company’s service motto she got a tattoo. Jon was dared to do the same. He rose to the challenge and raised funds for a cancer charity. He is now forever committed to ‘leave it with us’.

We gained BRC certification (now called BRCGS) which is a global food safety standard certification and ensures that we have systems and processes to keep the safety, quality & legality of our products and service at the forefront of what we do. It was a no brainer for us!

What made this year so important


Order from Boston Tea Party


Fine Food range launched


New certification (BRCGS)


1 Million Euros and a year of building

With a name change from A. David to Arthur David came newly branded vans. We had a new generator installed on site to give us even greater product security, and were presented with a cake by Van Geestr International for having spent 1 million euros with them for the first time – this was a huge milestone for us. We were still on the up – including our team who completed the Great Snowdon Challenge.

2017 was a year of building. We built a new reception area and offices, new QQ, new market distribution depot and opened our new intake warehouse.

We also opened the IFFI operation in December ‘17 to ensure we were able to intake, store and internally distribute products to the farm operation (IFFI – Ingredients and Fine Foods Intake). It gave us more space to store products, notably a large freezer giving us better buying power.

We also won family business of the year at the family business awards – even with 300+ people, it still felt like a family.

We also held our first Orbit planning session. Orbit is a way of us planning what our business objectives are for the next 5 years. It allows us to consider all that we want to do with all that is possible, our knowledge of the industry and the South West with the desires of our customers and suppliers in order to develop a 5 year roadmap that is both realistic and aspirational. It gives us all clarity and direction.

What made this year so important


Miles covered for charity


Euros spent with Van Geestr International


Family Business of the Year award


Purchases, people and snow ploughs!

The Beast from the East snow storms hit the UK and massively impacted our suppliers but we did our best to get food where it needed to go and keep customer doors open! For the first time in our history we had to close the business for a day as we dealt with the impact. We had to work long in to the night to clear the snow from the yard and rescue vans that were stuck in rural areas. As ever, our people doubled down and did all they could.

We acquired another business – Mark Kidner had two wholesale businesses in the Bristol market and one foodservice operation in Bridgwater. Mark’s businesses complemented ours and it made sense for us to join forces.

We were named one of the 1000 companies to inspire Britain for the 4th time and attended the stock exchange to be presented with our award. We gained the Investors in People accreditation which we are forever proud of. We co-sponsored a Gromit with BTP on the Gromit trail around Bristol. It was based outside BTP Gloucester Rd and was painted by Tom Hovey, a fabulous food artist known for his work on the Great British Bakeoff.

What made this year so important


Time in our history we had to close business for a day


Time named as on of the 1000 companies to inspire Britain


Gromit for the Gromit Unleashed trail


‘Family Business of the Year’

We were so proud to win the Bristol Life family business of the year award. Arthur was in attendance and received a standing ovation, it was a very emotional night and felt like real recognition of all that Arthur has achieved in the past 50+ years. Our customers and suppliers showered praise on us and we were in a high profile article in the Evening post. We don’t do what we do for the accolades but we’d be lying if we said it’s not incredible to be recognised.

What made this year so important


Bristol Life Family Business of the Year award


Covid and its consequences

When Covid hit and the UK closed down our foodservice business fell off a cliff – no hospitality, no schools, no manufacturing. In an effort to keep our people working, our business wheel turning and serve the needs of the public all grappling with a locked down world we started a home delivery business. This was harder than it sounds – all of our products are packaged ready for commercial kitchens – but we did our best and ended up turning over £1m in sales. We planned for the worst in order to be prepared for whatever came. We planned for nearly 200 redundancies but thankfully only had to make 50 (although of course losing even one person hurt!). We borrowed £800k from the bank but thanks to our proactive credit control and penny perfect finance team we never had to use it. When hospitality began to re-open we had a very challenging time getting everything back up and running to pre-covid levels. But, as ever, our management and our people were incredible. From the marketing team delivering orders to the MD packing boxes. Packers and the prep room working double shifts. The dedication was mind blowing.

Incredibly in 2021 Arthur David had its best ever year financially but the senior team nearly fell over in the process. It was tough going, gruelling at times but our customers were all in it with us. Everyone was doing all they could to keep their business, and the food industry in the South West afloat. A huge increase in domestic holidays put added pressure onto the tourism market but again – you’ve got to make hay while the sun shines and after 2020 everyone was ready to make hay! Our focus didn’t just turn to sales and delivery though – we also retained our AA grade BRCGS certification once again. We were pleased to be able to pay a Covid bonus to all employees that had worked throughout the pandemic and took delivery of 30 new box vans ready for the brand refresh. And once again, we look to the future while enjoying the present – leave it with us, we’ve got it covered

What made these dates so important


Generated in direct sales


New box vans


Unfortunate redundancies

Our core values are the same now as they were 60 years ago

Customer Service

We go the extra mile to achieve and exceed customer expectations, above and beyond, 100% of the time. The customer comes first at all times and we ensure they are at the forefront of the decisions we make.


We provide customers with first class products and service, maintaining the highest quality throughout all processes to ensure complete customer satisfaction. We have quality at the heart of everything we do.

Team Work

We work confidently within a group, contributing ideas effectively, sharing the responsibility, accepting & learning from constructive advice & giving positive feedback to others.


We provide excellence in our work, exceeding all expectations for customers and staff alike. We are never satisfied with anything less; from start to finish we bring excellence to everything we do.


We always do our best by others, whether they are customers, colleagues or suppliers. We respect our peers, equipment, relationships and our reputation.