Retail & Food Service

Grocer gets Dragon’s Den business revamp

In April, grocer, Daniel Ox, won a month of priceless mentoring from former Dragon and YO! Sushi founder, Simon Woodroffe.

Within three months of his first mentoring session, Daniel, from Romford in Essex, had secured half a million pounds of new investment.

Ox founded his business, Fruit for the Office, in 2002, and the company marries his family’s 100-year-old costermonger business, which is now run by his stepfather Tommy Miles and mother Lesley, with his own background in digital marketing.

Using software written by Daniel himself, Fruit for the Office runs a very 21st century online delivery service, allowing offices in London and the south east to order and take delivery of his family’s fresh produce.

But Daniel felt he had come to a crossroads, with his parents looking to retire and Fruit for the Office ready to expand.

The businessman’s big moment came when he met Woodroffe for his first mentoring session, which was organised thanks to a scheme set up by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles in partnership with The Times.

The former Dragon was immediately impressed by Daniel’s drive and introduced him to Hazel Hutchinson, a seasoned expert in investment and director of Aegis Corporate Strategy.

With the help of Hutchinson, Daniel was put in contact with a business man that runs an equivalent dairy business. He convinced Daniel that he was “100% in the right place”, giving him the confidence to pitch to more of Hutchinson’s network.

Since Daniel’s month of mentoring, the positive feedback that Ox has received about Fruit for the Office has helped encourage his parents to stay on for three more years in order to focus on building up the business with a view to a potential sale or partner takeover.

But Daniel has also secured his much needed investment from a surprising source: Hutchinson herself, who was so impressed with the businessman that she decided to offer him the £500,000 necessary to take his business on to the next stage, which will include hiring a dedicated sales manager to follow up all potential new leads.

Hutchinson says: “I thought Daniel was quite an exceptional individual.

“I think he has got a very good future.”

On his mentoring, Daniel says: “I always remember Simon saying to me that when he was starting out he knocked on hundreds of doors and every time he got a no he celebrated, as it just meant he was closer to a yes.

“Advice like that has really helped me through this process. I’ve picked up some amazing tips and knowing that Simon and Hazel believed in me has given me the confidence to trust my judgement.”

On the mentoring, Simon Woodroffe says: “When I first met Daniel, I thought he was good, but perhaps a bit slick. The more I know him I’ve realised how capable, clever, intelligent and bold he is.

“He’s a real hustler – a nice, decent and honest person, who’s learned from the university of life, from seeing his father build up a business.

“My role for Daniel has been introducing him to Hazel – to a world where you can build up a business to have a value that you can access when it’s a bit older.”

Nicola Burnside, Marketing Communications Manager at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles adds: “This partnership demonstrates our ongoing commitment to working in partnership with Britain’s business owners.”

Newton House short-listed for ‘Best Yorkshire Breakfast’ award

Newton House Knaresborough has reached the finals for the 2014 Yorkshire Post and Deliciously Yorkshire Taste Awards for the ‘Best Yorkshire Breakfast’.

The 12 bedroom, AA four gold star guest house, which caters for leisure and business visitors to the area, is owned and managed by Denise Carter and her ‘Newton House Ladies’.

“The key to breakfasts at Newton House is quality and flexibility. Quality ingredients, including bacon and sausages from free range, rare breed pigs , are sourced locally, and, as well as granola and fruit compotes baked in the AGA each morning, I make all the preserves and marmalade myself. We also offer flexible breakfast times to allow guests an early start or a lazy lie-in.” says Denise Carter.

The focus on breakfast at Newton House is especially welcomed by business guests who often comment on how much nicer they are than many standard hotel breakfasts.

Lee Naylor, a regular business guest whose company has used Newton House for many years says: “It is an outstanding start to the day. The a la carte breakfast cooked to order to your personal taste and requirements is one of the reasons why I keep coming back to Newton House”.

The Awards ceremony takes place at The Pavilions, Harrogate on 15th October – fingers crossed for Newton House!

Colonna & Hunter bring craft beer and speciality coffee to new...

Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood is developing a brand new concept for his latest Bath based venture at Milsom Place, Bath called Colonna & Hunter where the craft and specialisation in craft beers will be celebrated in addition to speciality coffee.

The new venture is due to open late October. Maxwell has the distinction of being crowned UK Barista Champion twice in 2012 and again in April 2014.Milsom Place is a thriving dining and shopping location at the heart of the city which is a focal point for both locals and visitors with high footfall and attractive courtyard spaces for al fresco dining.

In 2009 Maxwell and his wife Lesley founded Colonna & Small’s in Queen’s Square where they have engineered a café with a whole new approach to coffee drinking; which has created a new kind of tourist for Bath - coffee enthusiasts. Trained to appreciate and understand coffee, his team offer expert advice to customers on their journey to discovering the flavour potential of speciality coffee.

This curatorial role is something that Maxwell is particularly proud of and says “coffee has become a culinary product, with recognition of quality and flavour. This approach to speciality coffee is the outcome of travel and modern communications which raise expectations across boundaries.”

Colonna and Hunter is a joint venture that sees Maxwell and Lesley team up with follow enthusiast James Hunter to create something unique and special, a new departure building on the success of Colonna & Small’s. The design aesthetic of the new space will be light and contemporary incorporating strong materials against the textured finish of Bath stone walls and a vaulted ceiling.

The setting will be geared to create a “third” space according to Maxwell, “after home and office we all need a third space”. The evidence supports this theory with his existing Queen’s Square outlet which can take on the atmosphere of a “coffice” (coffee shop come office) with its rows of coffee cognoscenti; creatives working at their Apple MACS.

Colonna & Hunter will pick up on the growing appreciation and popularity of craft beers. In the same way that their coffees from single-origin, hand- picked beans change with the seasons, the beers will be selected with the same loving care and expertise. The service team will be drilled in the chosen beers and their provenance to ensure each customer is entirely happy.

What differentiates the experiences in both these stores is this approach to customer service which involves guidance and advice and a high level of expertise. As with coffee, Colonna & Hunter makes it their business to study everything that contributes to the flavour and quality of the craft beers “the selection will be carefully considered; we will look at ingredients, at the provenance of the hops and malts that contribute to the character of the beers”.

Having himself walked away with the title of the UK’s best barista in 2012 and 2014 Maxwell is especially proud that his small team has also won awards in the Filter and Tasting Championships. Maxwell describes the UK Barista Championships as the TED talk of the coffee world involving practical exercises performed at speed with great precision as well as having to articulate what you are doing and why. It is, he says “very rigorous and structured”. His approach to the world of coffee is as much about science as art and indeed has contributed to research at the University of Bath into the study of water on coffee.

It is this precision and attention to detail that promises a special experience at Colonna & Hunter, one perhaps more akin to Berkeley, CA than Bath. Maxwell says “people really love the fact that we want to do things well and encourage them to taste new things. We try to create an environment that fits with their lifestyle with a passion for our product that reflects their own values”. Rather than rolling out a chain of me-too operations, Colonna & Hunter hope to evolve their ideas to fit the new space with their own designs for the interiors.

Ken Elliott, Director of Milsom Place says: “Everyone enjoys spending time in Milsom Place and we are confident that the Colonna & Hunter venture operated by the UK’s number one barista adds an exciting new dimension to our outstanding collection of restaurants.”

Scottish bar puts its vote on its sleeve

Publicans Jim and Suzanne McLaughlin are so keen to see a Yes vote on September 18 they’ve changed the name of their pub from Vespbar – to Yesbar.

And they’re confident the champagne corks will be popping in wee sma’ hours when Scotland decides its destiny.

Their confidence was boosted when within 24 hours of renaming their pub, it had become an internet sensation. They even had a visit from Hollywood actor Alan Cumming, star of The Good Wife and Cabaret, when he called in for a refresher and a chat.

"It’s been amazing" says Suzanne. "Twitter and Facebook went mad almost as soon as the new Yesbar signs went up. And since then people have been coming in droves to have a drink and congratulate us on the name change."

Jim, mine host of the popular retro bar in Glasgow’s Drury Street, says: ‘I’ve never really been very political before because, like a lot of people, I felt that my vote didn’t really count because most of the time in Scotland we end up with governments at Westminster that we haven’t voted for.

"But the referendum is different. This time every vote will count and that has got me buzzing with excitement. I’ve never been surer that a Yes this is an opportunity we simply cannot afford to pass up.

"So we wondered what we could do to show our support. And what better way than to change our name to Yesbar!"

Jim, who has run the city centre bar for the past three years, adds: "One of the great things about being in the pub trade is that you get to hear all the chatter. We tend to attract a younger clientele and there’s no doubt that people have become really engaged in the independence debate.

"Like me, they’ve made the effort to find out the facts. And like me, once they’ve done that they move to Yes."

Suzanne, who used to work for the Scottish Labour Party, says: "People need to understand that what we are doing on September 18 is not voting for a government. We are not voting for the SNP, Alex Salmond or any other party or politicians. What we are voting for is the chance to make our own decisions and to know that when we do come to elect a government we will as a nation be guaranteed to get the government we vote for."

The couple have not yet decided whether to revert to Vespbar after the referendum vote.

Jim says: "If it’s a Yes, and we’re confident it will be, maybe we’ll just keep the Yesbar name. It has a certain ring to it!"

Sheffield restaurant expands

Restaurant and Latin bar Cubana is toasting expansion success with a move into 5,800 sq ft premises in Leopold Square, Sheffield.

The tapas bar which serves up Spanish and South America cuisine, live music and dance classes, commissioned award winning lawyers hlw Keeble Hawson to acquire the lease of its new two floor premises, formerly occupied by Platillos.

Offering 120 covers, the commercial property triples the capacity of its former Trippet Lane premises where it has operated from since 2000 - hosting regular visits by legendary Cuban outfit, Buena Vista Social Club.

Owners Adrian Bagnoli and Brad Charlesworth and their team including head chef Fabian Cruz, have recreated the rustic style and authentic Cuban ambiance of their previous premises – and have exciting plans to bring in some of the UK’s top Latino bands for special one off events.

Adrian, a well-known Sheffield entrepreneur who co-founded Sheffield’s Viva Salsa! night club in the mid-1990s says: “The move to Leopold Square comes at a formative time in the business as we expand not just our square footage, but our offering - with the addition of a private function room, more DJ nights and dance classes.

“hlw Keeble Hawson did a great job in ensuring our lease progressed smoothly and on time and we enjoyed working with the firm on this momentous milestone.”

Craig Law, commercial property partner at hlw Keeble Hawson - one of the region’s biggest law firms with offices in Sheffield, Leeds and Doncaster, says: “Cubana’s presence in Leopold Square will further enhance the area’s buzz and dynamism. The expansion marks a dynamic success story for the business as it goes from strength to strength.”

Ranked in the top 10 in Experian’s table of the most active advisers in Yorkshire’s mergers and acquisitions market during 2013, hlw Keeble Hawson is also included in Experian’s top 5 of most active legal advisers in Q1 of 2014.

The Saucy Fish Co. wins best fish award

The Saucy Fish Co. has won ‘Best Fish’ Award in Healthy Food Guide Food & Drink Awards 2014 for its bestselling Salmon with Chilli Lime and Ginger Sauce product – offering the best taste and nutritional value in its category.

The annual awards from the top consumer healthy food magazine recognise stand out nutritious products in the food and drink sector, as voted for by readers and a panel of food experts and dieticians.

One of Saucy Fish’s flagship products, Salmon Chilli Lime and Ginger is only 195 calories per serving, packed full of Omega 3 and is now sold in the USA and Australia.

This is the second consumer award for this product, after being awarded Gold for Best Ready Meal in Health & Fitness and Women’s Fitness magazines last year, beating off stiff competition from brands including Innocent and Kirsty’s.

Simon Smith, Head of Brand at The Saucy Fish Co. says: “It’s fantastic to receive recognition from health food industry experts. We all know fish plays an integral part of a healthy lifestyle and this award, in a competitive category with many nutritious products – really demonstrates the taste and quality of our products are second to none.”

The Saucy Fish Co.’s Salmon with Chilli Lime and Ginger costs £4.50 and is available at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Ocado and Co-op stores nationwide.

The wider fish and sauce range includes:

• Tilapia with Mango & Chilli Dressing
• Sea Bream with Sunblush Tomato Dressing
• Seasoned Tuna with Soy & Sweet Chilli
• Salmon with Sunblush Tomato Dressing
• Salmon with Watercress and Rocket Sauce
• Sea Bass with Beurre Blanc
• Salmon with Chilli Lime and Ginger Dressing

Celebrating ten years ‘Inn’ service

Innserve, a UK drinks dispense service provider, is celebrating ten years as an independent company.

Based in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, Innserve employs over 550 people country wide and offers a full range of support services to well-known national and international brands in the drinks industry including Heineken, Carlsberg, C&C and Britvic.

Since launching in 2004, Innserve technicians have completed over 3 million visits to licensed and non-licensed premises, whilst the company’s Customer Service Centre currently receives over 700,000 calls a year.

Innserve also provides event and venue drinks dispense services. The company set up the bar services at the recently opened First Direct Arena in Leeds and provides technician support for bars at music festivals throughout the UK, including the Isle of Wight Festival and Edinburgh Festival.

Tom Bryan, director of strategy at Innserve, says, “Since being established in 2004, Innserve has continued to develop its services and knowledge base to now provide a comprehensive drinks dispense suite of packaged or individual services, delivering real value to its customers.

"We are proud to be celebrating our 10th anniversary as the largest independent drinks dispense service provider in the UK and look forward to helping existing and future customers exceed their objectives in the coming years”.

Tom adds, “I would like to take the opportunity to thank all our employees for their hard work and dedication. It is thanks to them that we have reached this memorable milestone.”

European food suppliers reeling from Russian embargo

In reactions to US and EU sanctions against certain Russian goods, the Russian Government in Moscow has imposed a one year trade embargo on a number of specific farm and food products. The effects of which many suppliers across the EU are feeling most keenly.

With the Russian market accounting for a significant percentage of exports, the sudden ban has left many companies in situations where they have a large amount of stock that now needs to be sold to someone else before it rots. What’s worse is that suppliers are unlikely to be able to claim anything back from the Russian companies who have terminated their contracts – because it was due to forces outside those companies’ control.

For many however the loss of long term clients will be the worst aspect. Although the embargo is only planned to be in place for a single year, there is no guarantee the situation won’t worsen. What’s more even after the embargo is over the companies who have lost customers might face stiff competition from other suppliers. In the meantime Russia will no doubt be seeking more goods from Asian or African nations, which could end up replacing EU goods on a long term basis.

What is apparent though is that EU food suppliers affected by the embargo will need to step up their trade relations within the EU and to other continents they might not have entered before. The emphasis for the coming future might come back to “buying local.”

Contract catering firm scoops gold

East-Anglian contract catering firm Edwards & Blake are delighted to have won a Gold Food for Life Catering Mark Award for their catering at Neatherd High School, Dereham, Norfolk.

The Soil Association’s Gold Food for Life Catering Mark Award is presented to caterers who demonstrate they meet the high standards of provenance, quality and preparation and provide food that encourages pupils to eat healthy, fresh food on site.

By being an accredited Catering Mark holder, Edwards & Blake has made a key contribution to Neatherd High School becoming one of only four secondary schools in England to achieve the wider Food for Life Partnership Gold award, which acknowledges provision of quality food as well as cooking, growing and farm-linked education to pupils and the wider community.

Shirley Edwards, Managing Director of Edwards & Blake says: “We pride ourselves on offering extremely high standards to every school we work with, sourcing all produce as locally as possible and ensuring that a freshly-prepared, healthy meal is available to all pupils who take school meals. We have worked closely with Neatherd High School to develop menus and food that will encourage pupils to eat well and enjoy their food and we are delighted that we have both reached the ‘Gold’ standard”.

Rob Sexton, Chief Executive of Soil Association Certification, says: "The Gold Catering Mark is a fantastic achievement on this scale so it’s brilliant to see Edwards & Blake gaining recognition for serving great fresh meals made with seasonal, local and organic ingredients. Serving menus to Gold Catering Mark standards can significantly reduce carbon emissions and supports local businesses so this is a win-win for planet-friendly food and the local economy. Edwards & Blake is leading the way in the drive to improve food culture in the UK.”

Owned and managed by Shirley Edwards and Caroline Blake, the company is based in Swaffham in Norfolk. It looks after over 85 contracts and has over 500 staff. Edwards and Blake has a turnover of over £14m.

Chef urges growers to donate roots and shoots

Chef Tim Bilton of The Spiced Pear Hepworth has teamed up with the National Allotment Society, and is asking Yorkshire’s veg growers to donate their homegrown roots and shoots this month – so he can cook up a community feast for Harvest Festival on September 8th.

The Spiced Pear has teamed up with National Allotment Society to host the party in their 4 acre kitchen garden and restaurant, which will centre on a fabulous feast cooked up by Tim for all the contributing gardeners and locals.

The Yorkshire chef will create a feast made from fruit and veg grown on all 100 Kirklees sites – that’s over 1000 allotment plots in total!

Tim’s grow-your-own ethos was inspired by his training under Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons and since opening The Spiced Pear a year ago, his smallholding and garden has been his top priority.

“Local produce and growing-your-own has always been a personal passion of mine and I have loved working on my plot at The Spiced Pear," says Tim.

"I want to celebrate and promote the joys of growing your own and spread the allotment agenda! So, whether you want to show off your ravishing radishes, beautiful broad beans or stunning celeriac – we’d be delighted if you got involved and came to our party."

Di Appleyard from NAS, says: “We are very excited to have teamed up with Tim to emphasise the satisfaction of growing and eating your own tasty produce and promote the National Allotments Society; raising awareness of the social, cultural and health benefits that allotments provide helps the Society to get our message over to policy makers and government at all levels and protect sites for future generations to enjoy.”

If you’d like to donate your veg, get in touch with Tim at 01484 683 775 or drop it off at The Spiced Pear, Hepworth.

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