An artisan food producer has seen its turnover soar by nearly £200k after securing a distribution deal with The Cress Company, shelf space in Selfridges, and a national listing with Dobbies Food Halls.
The Little Herb Farm, which added vegetable dips to its range of flavoured vinegars when it took over the ailing Dip Nation last March, saw its turnover grow from £45k to £240k this month (March).
The food manufacturer, which has been helped by Business Gateway Fife, projects turnover will increase by a further 25% over the coming year after signing deals with both Hider Foods and Blakemore Fine Foods.
The company, which hand pours 30k bottles of vinegar and produces 200k dips a year from its base in Lundin Links, Fife, is now looking to expand into the catering sector and invest in a bottling plant to keep up with demand.
Lindsey Anderson, owner, The Little Herb Farm, said: “When I started making vinegars it was to make a little extra money, now it’s a full-time job. Throughout the past three years, Business Gateway has been a lifeline to me. My adviser has listened and helped me access grants that went towards setting up a website, gain industry accreditation, and take a stand at Scotland’s biggest trade show where I secured orders that helped me grow the business. Funding also helped me get my labels professionally designed. Without that support right at the start things might be very different.”
She added: “I’d never intended to make dips but when the opportunity arose to buy Dip Nation I saw the possibilities straight away. Not only did it allow me to create employment, it opened new routes to market. I kept its Tesco range and developed a range of artisan dips under my own brand name which has increased the company’s reach further. A lot of time and effort has gone into developing the business and securing listings with Cress, Dobbies Food Hall, and Selfridges last year helped establish the brand a leading producer of condiments. Now, with Hider and Blakemore on board, I’ll be able to target an even bigger cross section of the population living south of the border.”
Lynne Baillie, Business Gateway, said: “Lindsey has benefitted from a range of Business Gateway support, from Expert Help, which is funded through the European Development Fund, Create in Fife and our Market Development programme. We have now put her in touch with Scottish Development International to help her investigate the possibility of exporting her products to Europe. Lindsey has established a strong business and we will continue to provide support when needed to help her realise her growth ambitions.”
Having been a primary teacher for nearly 10 years, Lindsey gave up her job in 2011 to care for her third child after her daughter was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder. Wanting to generate some income, Lindsey began making cakes but quickly realised baking wasn’t practical when a trip to the hospital could occur at any time.
A keen gardener, Lindsey began making a range of fruit flavoured vinegars using ingredients she’d grown and locally sourced fruit which she then sold at local fairs and to a couple of local shops. The vinegars popularity quickly grew and when her daughter was given the all clear, Lindsey decided to put all her effort into growing the business.
She said: “Emily had really bad flu as a baby that turned into bronchitis which completely destroyed her immune system. She was diagnosed with a condition called Auto-immune Neutropenia and it took three years for her immune system to recover; during that time even a basic infection could have killed her. That experience taught me you never know what is around the corner. I wanted to put a silver lining on the cloud that had been hanging over us, and I’d always wanted to run my own business so I asked myself what was the worst that could happen?
“Now I employ three part-time staff and two seasonal workers and my vinegars and dips are sold in over 300 shops throughout the country. It is a juggle, as I have four children, and I do battle with the guilt that comes hand-in-hand with being a working mother, but making the business a success is for the benefit of the family in the long run and I love what I do.”