Cumbrian Food: it is BIG and it is CLEVER

Chatting with Peter Sidwell at his Simply Good Food HQ in Keswick reminded us of all the great things that are currently happening in and around Cumbrian food.

          When Peter started his cooking career in Keswick he was seen as revolutionary because he used local produce.  His entrepreneurial flair continues today with his Simply Good Food TV channel looking to reach 1,000,000 download figures and clips of the channel now showing on screens on the London Underground.  Just as Peter has diversified and grown his business, so the Food and Drink sector in Cumbria has evolved to include multinational food manufacturers, regional and national food producers and smaller artisanal food and drink producers with healthy export markets in place.

Local food is now not just about the local food markets, although they still play an important part in raising the profile of our awesome local food producers. Many of our larger local food retailers and hospitality businesses focus on the great food and drink producers in and around the county.  Just check out some of our great local retailers such as Low Sizergh Barn in the south of the county, Westmorland on the M6 and Cranston’s in the north. Or look at the wholesalers such as Caterite and Pioneer Foodservice both of which do sterling work in supporting our burgeoning food sector, acting as a vital link between our local food and drink producers and the consumer.

Cumbrian food is getting on the map. This year’s Great Taste Awards – probably the best barometer of artisan food and drink in the UK -, were well represented in Cumbria with food and drink producers scooping 51 awards including prestigious 2 star awards for: Shed1 Distillery; Lakeland Mues; Stringers Beer; Mr Vikki’s; Peace and Loaf Bakehouse, Woodall’s Charcuterie; Bruce and Luke’s Coffee; Cranstons; Dalemain Marmalade and Hawkshead Relish and 3 stars for Grants Smokehouse and More The Artisan Bakery.

All these food businesses large and small are doing their bit to raise the standard of Cumbrian food and drinks and in doing so are creating a growing vibrant food economy for our region.  They are creating new opportunities for employment in the food sector as well as the many service businesses that support it from hospitality; to accountants; to social media experts, to web designers; to photographers; to graphic designers; to packaging and box businesses to HR experts and so many more.

Food has always been an integral part of the Cumbrian economy and we as consumers have an opportunity to become part of its rebirth.  So this weekend why not go and try that independent café or restaurant that you’ve always fancied visiting.  If you’re not going out, why not try one of the many local ales that are now brewed in your county or one of the local jams or coffees produced here.  You might just like what you try and then you too can become part of the Cumbrian food revolution.

If you’re a business looking to source more local food check out our map on https://www.thomasjardineandco.co.uk/centre-family-food-business/ and if we have missed a fab food or drink producer please let us know.  Follow us on Twitter @thomasjardineco


Food Entrepreneurs….the Lakeland MUES story

 

Lakeland Mues…it is all about trust and product, a SPACE and TIME dimension.

A great morning out and an opportunity to talk to the Lakeland Mues guys, two young lads whose passion for quality muesli led to a starring role in BBC Two’s recent ‘Back to the Land’ documentary on local food producers.

Arriving at Lakeland Mues HQ we were met by Luke clutching a bag of their new ‘Total Nutter’ blend, Luke had a broad grin on his face that to be honest we’ve always seen him wearing.

First met the Mues guys when we were manning a market stall next to them on a particularly wet and windy Cumbrian autumn day.  Their belief in their product shines through despite their practiced nonchalant style.  They truly appreciate the lifestyle they can have in this wonderful part of the world – #Cumbria – and also have the talent and work ethic to make sure they have a business that will succeed and thrive.  They are already coaching a roaster in the fine details of producing their muesli and have a small team of people assisting with the bagging.

We sit down with Tim and Luke over a cup of tea and try to capture what drives them and how they manage to thrive in a highly competitive market place.  The answer as always is both simple and complicated.  They both agree that food businesses always learn from each other and they are always looking for tips on doing things.  A growing business always has new demands on your time and there never seems enough time to do all the things they need to do, but that stops them from getting bored and you get the feeling they quite like taking on new challenges. The greatest balancing act of all, SPACE (both Physical and Head, the SPACE to think and plan) and TIME – the elusive commodity which can be easily lost and hard to find!

 

They both agree that they work well together both have separate roles, one more creative and one more on the financial side of the business.  But both are happy to work on getting large orders out or working jointly on anything else that a growing business inevitably faces above all else whatever happens always have a laugh about it.

The Lakeland Mues business is currently based in two units one for storage and office work and one just down the road where the alchemy happens roasting the seeds and nuts that goes into their generous muesli.  They would ideally like to merge this into one location and plans are in motion to get this done (again showing that they are not just working on the day to day of the business).

They have a growing order book from retailers and farm shops which clearly demonstrates how their drive is growing their business and they also have quite a loyal on-line fan base who regularly buy their product (the appearance on the TV definitely helped this). And they have just won a coveted Guild of Fine Foods   2 Star TASTE Award!  OUTSTANDING!

Above all else they have a belief in their brand and work with people they trust, you just know these guys are going somewhere, watch out Kelloggs, the Cumbrians are coming.

 

 

How are you feeling about your business – are you ON IT? If YES, get in touch and tell us your story, if No, get in touch and see what we can do to make your life better – at the very least you’ll experience an exceptional cup of coffee!

email: hello@thomasjardineandco.co.uk

Facebook/Twitter @thomasjardineco


Waving the Flag…

We’ve been out and about recently talking to Family Businesses of all size and age – the common theme is that they are really focused and tend to quietly get on with doing really good stuff.  If asked ‘do you celebrate being a Family Business’?  The answer is usually NO – that’s not what we do, it wouldn’t seem appropriate to ‘flag wave’’.  Well let me tell you family businesses are essential to Local, Regional and National economies…. let’s have a look at some of those UK Family Business Facts and Stats……. courtesy of the IFB and Oxford Economics.

  • The vast majority of businesses in the UK are family run … In 2015 there were 7 million in the UK, (UP 3% on 2014).
  • They make up 87% of all private sector businesses in the UK. Small family businesses dominate, comprising more than 97% of the total.
  • Family businesses employed 2 million people in 2015.
  • They provide 36 per cent of the UK’s jobs and close to half of the jobs in the private sector.
  • Family businesses earned £1.4 trillion in 2015, UP 6% from 2014.
  • They generated a £460 billion to UK GDP. This was 36% of the entire private sector’s
  • Family-run businesses’ gross value added was £43 billion, UP 10% on the previous year, driven by increases in activity in real estate, professional and business services, wholesale and retail.
  • Some 52% of the contribution of family businesses to UK GDP in 2015 was made by firms with fewer than 10 employees.
  • Family businesses collected or paid nearly £133 billion to the Exchequer in 2015, including corporation tax, business rates, employee and employer national insurance contributions, and income taxes. 6% HIGHER than the previous year.

Family businesses are individually BRILLIANT and collectively AWESOME, so if you ever thought you had no flag to wave think again!  Whether your 1, 10, 40 or 150 years old, they are all key milestone’s and you will have positively impacted many people along the way, your customers, your suppliers, your fabulous teams – so why not celebrate.   Take a look at Family Business conferences and Awards in your region – attend the Cumbrian Family Business Conference open to all Family Businesses not just Cumbria!  Enter regional and national awards such as the Cumbria Family Business Awards.  Go on it’s time to wave the Family Business Flag!   If you’re planning a celebration, we’d love to come!

Here’s Hairy Biker Dave Myers presenting the Outstanding Family Business Award to a brilliant generational family business in Cumbria Bells of Lazonby

Time to wave that FLAG…


Create and Innovate from the EDGE……

Only in Cumbria can you get a group of businesses together who walk through a ‘light shower’ to get on a boat, dressed in frocks and suits!  But hey, we live in and around a newly formed World Heritage site and boy how lucky are we to live and work on the edge in one of the worlds most beautiful areas.

This was our first IoD event, jointly organised with the Cumbria Family Business Network and we were truly impressed with the light touch organisation that just allowed us to talk to each other at the wonderful, Family run Waterhead Hotel in Ambleside, part of a brilliant Family operated hotel group.

The noise level in the Cumbria Tourisms hotel of the year 2016 gradually rose as old and new acquaintances and friends caught up with each other.   Then boarding the Windermere Cruises boat just confirmed why we have finally been confirmed World Heritage Status, there cannot be many places with better scenery than that which surrounds Lake Windermere.

This sentiment was echoed by our keynote speaker, Kevin Roberts, who with a choice of houses across the world haschosen Grasmere as his UK base and is also his choice for his wedding!  Kevin, I have to say, is a great speaker, he highlighted Cumbria as the ideal location for innovation as it is far enough from London to allow free thinking and creativity (a sentiment we completely agree with). Likening us to his other favourite haunt in New Zealand with both areas destined to change the world from the edge – think of New Zealand’s world beating All Blacks or Cumbria’s world beating Food, both from a geographical edge and both world beaters.

Quick apology to Kevin for thinking his rattle snake was a sheep…we don’t get many snakes in Cumbria – long story!

So what were our takeaways from Kevin?

Cumbrian businesses should create and innovate as we are on the edge – geographically speaking!  With edge creativity we can ‘win the world’ – our region must be innovative and creative because of our brilliant geography. He commented we are over managed in the UK which is blocking creativity and Cumbria has the opportunity to inspire NOT command and control.  He said, leaders don’t get things done, they make things happen – agreed!  Leaders create other leaders – so true for generational family business – he said we must create leaders across generations – agreed!

Fail Fast, Learn Fast, Fix Fast (Kevin Roberts, 2017)

Only in Cumbria would this world renowned speaker be presented with a locally produced food hamper as a wedding gift…truly a sign that Cumbrian businesses collectively recognise the uniqueness and quality of the food we produce.  With that in mind the cruise was really helped by the provision of an awesome Cumbrian buffet who proudly offered their very own roast ham and Cumberland sausage.

After dinner had lots of useful conversations, including one with Spencer and Diane from Herdy its only when you start talking about what you want to do that you really start knowing what you are offering to the world.

The whole night made us think that business has always been about “Getting your message out.” which is an acquired art, BUT jumping back into business is just like riding a bike…you think you remember it all and then you hit a bump, fall off graze your knee and get back on again…the secret is just to keep in getting back on the bike more times than you fall off it.  As Kevin said entrepreneurs and leaders build fast, fail fast and learn fast.

 


Time to launch and put OUR money where OUR mouth is…

We have always worked with family food businesses, but then most of the country can claim some connection with family food business from being part of its supply chain to being a consumer of their great products.

Our journey starts some time ago when we joined Jacqui’s family business (4th generation), there for twenty years we saw exponential growth in sales, profits and people – we were most proud of the fact that we were acknowledged as one of the best retail outlets in the country…it was recognition not profit that drove us.

We sold the business (a family decision rather than a business one) and have spent ten years honing our skills in supporting family business – everything from Retail Vice Chair of the £3.2bn National Guild of SPAR, Head of Family Business Engagement at Lancaster Uni, Vice Chair of Carlisle Food City, Advisory Board Member for Revive and Thrive, Chair of the Industry Advisory board for the FSA, Judge for the Guild of Fine Food Awards and experts in Family Business and Food Supply Chain.

Then a few years ago our son started his business journey as a coffee shop owner and coffee roaster. Supporting him on his journey we realised there was no “go to” group that could support the unique situation that is created when family and food business is combined. We aim to change this. In 2016, working with Carlisle Food City we created a food map based on Google Maps…basic but it got the message out that there were many food business in the area. This interest gained support from the University of Cumbria and working with Ivention and Carlisle City Council we launched the Local Food Show in 2017.

We have now, with a great deal of help from Sparrow Digital, upgraded our map and are launching a website that we hope will act as a catalyst to focus support for Family food business. We are working on literally ‘putting OUR money where OUR mouth is’ and are acquiring a BUILDING to house a Local Food Producer, those wonderful desk based businesses who can add so much value to the food sector,  as well as a Centre for Family Food Business – a HUB in the making!  As Thomas Jardine & Co we will offer practical support to Family food businesses from Mentoring to Peer Groups to 360 degree views of their business and bespoke consultancy.

Family food businesses have a significant impact on the place in which they are based, from pure economic impact to creating a unique taste of that place. Family businesses account for a quarter of UK GDP and 20% of UK Government Revenue.  We reckon on the latest figures there were 3,975 [1] people employed in Cumbria’s small and medium family food and drink manufacturing businesses, or 2.3% of the total work force and this doesn’t include those employed in larger food businesses (640 [2] employees at United Biscuits in Carlisle which is of course a family owned business).

We don’t really want to bore you with too many facts and stats, but suffice to say YOU (Family food businesses) are BIG and CLEVER.  If you want to join us on our journey contact us at hello@thomasjardineandco.co.uk and checkout our new website, let us know what you think.  Let’s start some noise @thomasjardineco #familyfoodbiz. 

 

 

[1] 72% of all SME are family owned (BEIS, 2016 Longitudinal Business Survey year 2) 97.5% off all employment in Cumbria was in SMEs (UK Business counts) 5,500 people employed in manufacturing of food and drink in Cumbria (Business Register & Employment Survey) so 72% * 97.5%* 5,500 = 3,975.

[2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cumbria-35696027