Company History


J Riley Beet Harvesters (UK) Ltd

The history of the company is intricately linked to the story of six-row self-propelled harvesters in the UK, and can be traced back to the late 1970s when managing director Jeremy Riley joined the sole UK importers of Moreau harvesters; Fords of Rackheath. At the time the majority of the UK beet crop was lifted with trailed single-row machines, and many industry experts predicted sales of self-propelled machines would never reach a dozen machines, but they were wrong. During the next five years a very wet season when only the self-propelled machines would go meant that the Moreau harvesters took this pioneering new market by storm, and by the mid-1980s there were 200 in the country.

In late 1989 Armer Salmon had taken over Fords, and many members of staff went over to the new company. The Moreau business was maintained and sales were successful. However, in 1991 Jeremy was approached by a contractor wanting to change to a tanker harvester, something which Moreau couldn’t provide, so he advised them to look at Vervaet harvesters. A meeting was setup which resulted in an order for the first Vervaet 12-T tanker harvester in the UK for the 1992 season - a landmark event. A further six machines were sold the following year, but Moreau feared they would lose sales and pressurised Armer to give up with Vervaet.

In response, and with an eye on the future, Jeremy left Armer and setup J Riley Beet Harvesters (UK) Ltd at Attlebridge in early 1995, joined by fellow ex. Armer employees Peter Smith and David Oakley. In addition to importing the Vervaet tanker harvester, the new company also became Moreau agents for Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

At the time many contractors wanted to move over to a tanker harvester and the company grew very quickly, especially following the launch of the legendary 17-T harvester, selling eight machines in 1995 which soon increased to 40 machines a year. Harry Skeet joined the company as service manager in 2002, bringing with him his phenomenal expertise and experience.

Today there are over 160 Vervaet harvesters in the country, easily making them the obvious market leader. To look after all aspects of these harvesters, and provide a first class service, J Riley Beet Harvesters (UK) Ltd employs 18 experienced staff. Although the machines have evolved almost out of recognition, with numerous significant and industry-leading developments, a lot of the customers haven’t with many extremely long-lasting relationships forged over time.