A Lanarkshire ice cream maker has secured a raft of new contracts following the completion of a £200k investment programme.
Soave’s Ice Cream, which has been helped by Business Gateway Lanarkshire, ploughed the money into new machinery increasing production to 3500 litres per day and doubling the size of the freezer storage room within its dairy. Further investment in branding, packaging, marketing, and a re-design of its website was also undertaken and the company exhibited at key trade shows for the first time this year, including at The Royal Highland Show.
The recently completed two-year programme has not only helped the family firm secure contracts with JB Foods (Scotland) Ltd, Bidfood, and Reids Food Services Ltd, it has now led to deals with two supermarkets. Soave’s, which employs 14 people at its Muirhead headquarters, has secured contracts to supply its ice cream filled sponges and snowballs to a select number of Scotmid and Morrison’s stores in Scotland.
Valerie Adam, General Manager, Soave’s, said: “A lot of hard work and a significant amount of investment has gone into changing the way we work, helping us transform the business so that it can meet the demands of our rapidly growing order book. Our Business Gateway adviser Paul McIlvenny’s knowledge and connections have helped us throughout the whole process, linking us with experts and helping us secure funding that made the expansion possible. In particular, his help with our successful By Design Grant application allowed us to create a new website, re-brand, take product photography, set up Facebook, brand our vehicles, and produce a brochure that has helped us secure a significant amount of new and repeat business in the past six months.
“He also helped us successfully apply for a Capital and Infrastructure Grant from North Lanarkshire Council that allowed us to expand our dairy’s freezer storage and linked us with the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Services (SMAS) whose input helped us secure SALSA certification. Because we have increased production capacity and storage, we are now able to stock build our product for the first time which gives us the potential to add further production shifts when demand dictates.”
Paul McIlvenny, Adviser, Business Gateway Lanarkshire said: “Soave’s is a business that has been at the heart of the local community for over 70 years. The management team knew that our expertise would help them achieve their ambitious growth plans. As well as linking them with Scottish Enterprise, SMAS, and North Lanarkshire Council we were also able to help them secure grants to work with a marketing consultant and attend the Royal Highland show, which ultimately led to a potential partnership currently being discussed that could see their products go UK wide next year.”
Like many Italian families, the Soave’s left their home of Cassino near Rome in the early 1900s, emigrating to Scotland in search of a better life. On arrival they ran a fish and chips and ice cream business in Lanarkshire until the early 1950s when Eric’s Uncle Angelo Valente purchased Muirhead Café. In the mid-1970s Eric Soave went into partnership with his uncle and on Angelo’s retirement Eric expanded the business by constructing the manufacturing plant that has recently been expanded.
Although new technology helps the company produce over 50 flavours of ice cream, nearly 20 flavours of dairy-free sorbets, and a range of fat free frozen yogurts, many of the recipes remain the same as when they were first created, including the secret recipe for the firm’s best seller Vanilla Royale alongside family favourite, Raspberry Ripple. Earlier this year, the award winning company decided to sell its café after nearly 70 years of family ownership, allowing Eric time to concentrate on growing the production side of the business.
He said: “The dairy is thriving and recognition of our brand is growing every day, with more hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, food wholesalers, and ice cream parlours looking to stock our products. Over the years I have made a point of embracing change and looking for the opportunities that it presents. I see the latest sale of the café and investment as new chapters in the ongoing story of Soave’s and I would like to thank Business Gateway Lanarkshire for its support which has helped us successfully capitalise on the opportunities that have arisen and I am sure they will help us seize many more in the future.”