A West Midlands fruit and veg empire is nearing a sale after entrepreneur Joe Richards passed away.
Experts appointed to oversee the sale of the fruit and vegetable retail chain bearing his name said they were confident of a quick disposal.
Mr Richards, who was also well known as a campaigner for victims rights, was found dead in his home late in July.
At the age of just 46, he had expanded his chain of fruit and veg shops to a total of 11 across the region.
However, following his death Cranfield Business Recovery is acting as administrative receivers for the business which employs around 100 staff.
The firm has already had interest in more than half the stores across the region.
Tony Mitchell, of Cranfield, said: “Joe Richards had built-up a considerable business which he founded in 1994 and had built it into a £6.5 million turnover company by the time of his premature death.
“It is clear that the founder was the main driver of the business and the administrative receivers are keen to conclude a sale.
“The business had developed a high-quality reputation and there has been extensive goodwill shown from suppliers and customers in the weeks after Mr Richards’ death.
“We will be working to achieve a disposal of the business and wish to talk to any interested party about them acquiring one or more of the stores.”
Mr Richards founded the business after a five-year stint in the army.
It continued to trade in the region despite a tough climate on the high street seeing many rivals fold.
Its stores are in Erdington, Tamworth, Lichfield, Sheldon, Coventry, Kenilworth, Earlsdon, Cheylesmore, Shirley and Harborne, while the company’s warehouse is also in Birmingham.
He was also well known as a campaigner for victims rights, spending a decade on the cause after he was attacked in a Coventry nightclub.
The terrifying incident left Mr Richards in a coma for 15 days but his attacker, who pleaded guilty to wounding, was given 200 hours community service having served two months on remand in prison.
Prosecutors alleged that Mr Richards had been punched in the face in the attack, but he said he had been hit over the head with a bottle.
His death prompted an outpouring of tributes, particularly in Coventry where the entrepreneur lived.
Muna Chauhan, fundraising manager at Coventry baby hospice Zoe’s Place, said he was delighted to help them as often as he could.
She said: “He was kind, humble and friendly but more importantly he could just never do enough for us.
“If we wanted a Christmas tree he’d ask how big and it’d be with us in a week. That was the sort of person he was.
Cranfield was appointed by the company’s bankers to arrange a sale of the business.