Jeremy Riley and Matt Carse
The team at J Riley

December 7, 2022

Jeremy Riley hands over the reins at J Riley Beet Harvesters

Jeremy Riley hands over the reins at J Riley Beet Harvesters

Jeremy Riley, the majority shareholder and founder of long-established Vervaet importer J Riley Beet Harvesters (UK) Ltd, has sold his remaining 50% stake in the business. The company’s current sales manager, Matt Carse, has taken over as managing director with the full support of both Jeremy and manufacturer Frans Vervaet BV to take the company forward into the future.

Vervaet machines have been active in the UK since 1992. For the past two decades the company’s sugar beet harvesters have been the market leader in Britain, and recent new product introductions have seen the Dutch maker’s self-propelled slurry application machinery achieving considerable sales success.
“The Vervaet product range has evolved massively over the years, and this company must move forward too,” explains Jeremy Riley. “This business is all about the people involved and I’ve been dealing with some customers for three generations, continuing relationships which go back to 1978 when I began selling Moreau harvesters with Fords of Salhouse. I first met the Vervaet family in 1990 when Frans Vervaet came over with his son Robin. I liked them straightaway, and the fact that Vervaet was a family company meant you knew who you were dealing with. My relationship with Frans’ sons Robin and Edwin Vervaet has remained strong ever since. That we’ve never had a contract, with business concluded on trust, says it all, and we have become firm friends too.”

“My children have gone their own ways, so I had to look outside of the family for succession,” explains Jeremy. “I believe that Matt Carse shares the same values and ethos that we’ve had for the past 30 odd years, one of looking after and putting the staff and customers first, and with his enthusiasm and background in our industry we believe that he is the right person moving forward. I would like to thank all of our customers for their support, and I want to visit as many as possible over the next few months to personally discuss these changes. I’m very confident that with the expert Riley team behind him Matt will continue providing the same level of service that we’ve strived to maintain over many years.”

Robin Vervaet, commercial director at Frans Vervaet BV, has fond memories of early visits to the UK and the subsequent relationship that developed between the two companies as Rileys pushed ahead to develop Vervaet’s market share.

“We’ve had machines in the UK for 30 years this year, and I’ve known Jeremy since the very beginning,” says Robin. “I started in our company in 1989, and met Jeremy for the first time the following year. Jeremy was very convinced that tanker harvesters were the future, and although we didn’t necessarily have the perfect machine in those early days, his experience and the backup he provided made for the best overall package. In 1992 the first machine was sold to John Orford, a pioneering contractor from Norfolk. In 1993 we sold seven machines, and in 1994 we sold 10. This was initially through Armer Salmon, where Jeremy was general manager. But they also sold Moreau and as sales increased there was a conflict of interest, so Jeremy decided to go on his own and we’ve never looked back. There can’t be that many manufacturers and importers which have enjoyed such a long-lasting and harmonious relationship. We always look forward to coming over to see Jeremy, it’s also a friendship which has also stood the test of time.”

“To take over from Jeremy we needed someone capable of both running the business and visiting customers,” explains Robin. “From the second I shook hands with Matt Carse I thought that he was our man. He has been involved with beet harvesters for a long time and knows the whole spectrum of a business like ours. Although Matt is obviously a totally different person to Jeremy he shares the same values, and I can’t think of anyone better to fill his shoes. We have high hopes that he will keep the business successful, and look after the staff and customers. We are also handing over the reins to the next generation in our company too, although Edwin and myself are still involved in management decisions. With sugar prices now increasing I’m hopeful that farmers and contractors will continue investing in machinery.”

“Anyone who knows Jeremy Riley personally will understand the sheer devotion and passion he has put into building up the business over the past decades to become market leader,” points out Matt Carse, J Riley’s new managing director. “The company has become the flagship for the entire industry to look up to. I think that the team at Riley’s should feel very proud to be part of this success, and they are recognised across the industry for their high level of service and customer support.”

“I’ve dealt with sugar beet harvesters and slurry tankers for all of my working life, so as soon as the discussions started it felt right,” explains Matt. “I’m extremely confident that we have the most experienced team and the right products in both the beet and slurry sectors to be able to increase our market share even further. Our staff and customers can rest assured that it’s business as usual as we aim to maintain the same high standards that Jeremy has infused so well into the Riley team.”