Pioneering founder of employee-owned Alan Nuttall Partnership passes away

The Employee Ownership Association (EOA) passes on our heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Alan Nuttall after the pioneer of retail environments passed away following a short illness at the age of 80.

Alan Nuttall was the “visionary” founder and former chairman of The Alan Nuttall Partnership, which comprises Flexeserve and Nuttall brands, who wholeheartedly served the business for 56 years before taking a less active role in 2022.

Born on July 3, 1942, this year Alan celebrated his 80th birthday and assumed the position of the Partnership’s Founder, having placed the employee-owned business in a strong position to continue its journey. The Partnership’s Board says it is fortunate to build on this already rich heritage.

Alan’s remarkable vision was a trademark of his career. His revolutionary self-service fruit retail model, developed in 1975, is still in common use today – having been adopted by many major supermarkets, including Asda and Morrisons.

A proud Yorkshireman from a working-class background, Alan will be remembered as a passionate entrepreneur who had a nurturing presence, both as a friend and mentor.

Well-regarded for embodying true entrepreneurial spirit, his story of small beginnings started in 1966 when he launched – with just £137 – Alan Nuttall Ltd specialising in greengrocery shopfitting.

The Partnership Board said: “His presence was enormous and undeniable. We shall remember him as a visionary, whose commitment to both his business and his family were second to none. Much loved and respected, his legacy and passion for the business will continue to live on.”

A keen innovator, he was inspired by the self-service fruit shops he saw in the US and developed the UK’s first ever self-service system for fruiterers in 1975. A year later, this led him to create Fruity Fruits, which went on to be the largest independent fresh produce wholesale and retail business, employing 650 people in the UK when it was sold to Birmingham Co-op in 1989.

An ‘inspirational mentor’

Jamie Joyce, CEO of Flexeserve, said: “Alan was an inspirational mentor. He had a way of nurturing people to reach their potential – I experienced this first-hand. I’ve known him for my entire career and, without him, I would not be where I am today. I’m forever grateful and will miss him tremendously – both professionally and personally.”

Among his many achievements, Alan celebrated two Queen’s Awards for Enterprise, awarded twice in the Innovation category – first in 2005 and again in 2022. He also met Queen Elizabeth II and members of the Royal Family at the opening event for one of his landmark shopfitting projects for the prestigious Fortnum & Mason, pictured.

Alan leaves behind his beloved wife of 56 years, Jacqueline, as well as two daughters, a grandson and great grandson. He also, of course, leaves behind his professional legacy, The Alan Nuttall Partnership – a prospering, globally operating business employing in excess of 200 partners across two locations.

Matt Hornblower, CEO of Nuttall, said: “It is more important than ever to acknowledge Alan’s commitment to creating a Partnership that recognises the team of talented and dedicated individuals who can continue to drive it forward. The steps we have taken together with him in recent years towards becoming employee-owned have ensured that, long-term, the business is in safe hands – those of its passionate partners.”

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Words of condolence for Alan’s family and friends are welcome and deeply appreciated here >>

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