The Place family started out as traditional farmers, farming at Eriswell and Wangford in Suffolk. During George Place’s time at Eriswell Hall, records show that he acquired 3000 acres of land from the Indian Prince Duleep Singh estate at Elveden in 1880.
Jabez’s grandson Frank Place, aged 20, fought in the 1st World War (1914-18) and was awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry and devotions to duty. After the war in 1926, Frank Place was able to buy Church Farm, with the purpose of mixed farming, both arable and livestock. But Frank Place needed to make the farm profitable, and in order to do so he started planting raspberries. These would then be sold in wooden baskets to a London wholesale merchant.
By 1937 ‘Lloyd George’ raspberries and ‘Royal Sovereign’ strawberries had grown in prestige and were supplied to King George’s Garden parties at Buckingham Palace, through a stall at Covent Garden.
In 1954 R & J M Place Ltd was formed under the leadership of John Place. During this time John began to produce and develop soft fresh fruit on the farm. These would then be sold to jam, yoghurt, ice cream and dessert manufacturers. Expanding the business as a whole.
With the fall of Berlin and the beginning of globalisation in the 1980s, we all became affected by cheap Eastern Europe imports of jam fruit. Luckily John had the foresight to switch from the production of jam fruit and installed an IQF freezing factory as well as cold stores on their site. This allowed them to sell fruit to a higher-end dessert market.
In 1986 many competitors began to install IQF freezers across Europe. At this time John joined the cooperative, Kentish Gardens, now known as Berry Gardens. This was vital for us as they taught many useful skills, from using raised beds for growing varieties, to using polythene mulches and polytunnels. We invested in our own polythene tunnels and newly improved fresh varieties with this newfound information. These were supplied to high-quality fresh markets.
In the early 1980’s Tim Place, fresh out of university, was the third generation to join the family business. Spending most of his time in the engineering department, his time spent in the freezer factory would see him become Operations Manager. But he would reach even greater heights as in 2000, Tim became the Managing Director of the Company as a whole, using this role to modernise their image that same year, marketing themselves as Place UK.
Over the course of the next few years Tim worked on several projects, some of which include expanding their freezer factory and adding a retail packaging factory in 2015. The same factory where we pack our smoothies for retail today.
Recently in 2021, Tim became the group chairman of R & J M Place Ltd, but despite this still takes a keen interest in Place UK.
Pieter van Egmond
Pieter joined Place UK in 2018 as Head of the Farm Estate, responsible for overseeing the growing, harvesting, and forecasting of our fresh fruit.
As well as optimising the efficiency of the fruit operations. In addition to that, he looked after our partnership with Berry Gardens and the sales of fresh fruit. In the following year, Pieter became Farm Director. Managing our International Farm Camp and workforce, while continuing to oversee fresh fruit. He was promoted to Managing Director in 2021 and has kept an eye on the future and re-branding of Place UK since then.
As part of the Fourth Generation of the Place family, Ben has been with the company since 2021. He is the retail business manager at Place UK and is responsible for looking after the frozen retail business including the smoothie packs. This is done while also working closely with other departments.
He is passionate about pushing the boundaries of innovation within Place UK and staying on top of the latest trends.