Duchy Originals facing a right royal takeover by Waitrose

DUCHY Originals, Prince Charles&rsquo;s organic food group, is thought likely to be sold to upmarket supermarket chain Waitrose after drastic measures have been required just to stay afloat.<br /><br />The firm, which focuses on running a sustainable farm and making charitable donations, may be sold to the supermarket giant as early as this week. Its profits have plummeted as consumers have ditched luxury organic goods in the recession.<br /><br />Chief executive Andrew Baker and Waitrose boss Mark Price are expected to meet to nail down terms of a takeover deal for Duchy, which would continue to pass on profits to charity. <br /><br />Owning Duchy could allow Waitrose, which operates its own farms, to sell on its products without paying a profit premium, and boost its brand focus on quality organic produce from sustainable British farms. <br /><br />Duchy reported in February that operating profits were down to &pound;57,400 last year from &pound;1.53m in 2007 thanks to the consumer troubles and increasing costs associated with farming. Turnover fell by 17 per cent to &pound;4m. It has cut staff numbers, axed several product lines and slashed prices to avoid registering a loss.<br /><br />At the time chief executive Belinda Gooding and commercial director Alan Bradley quit the firm providing no explanation.