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Manufacturer Finedale Foods ready for investment a year after rescue deal

Luxury quiche production at Finedale Foods in Bunwell. Picture: Ian Burt

Luxury quiche production at Finedale Foods in Bunwell. Picture: Ian Burt

A Norfolk party food manufacturer is firmly on the path to future success less than 18 months after being rescued from administration, say bosses.

Luxury quiche production at Finedale Foods in Bunwell. Picture: Ian BurtLuxury quiche production at Finedale Foods in Bunwell. Picture: Ian Burt

Finedale Foods, formerly Frank Dale Foods, recorded turnover of £3.5m for the year to February 28 2018 with profit after tax of £550,000 – a dramatic turnaround from the £500,000 loss it filed for 2016/17, and keeping pace with targets set by its previous owners.

And the firm’s directors say they are ready to begin investing heavily in the Bunwell firm to fulfil their growth plans, with more than 50% of its profits going back into the business this year.

Major projects include increasing cold store capacity by 50%, a renovation of its offices, and upgrading factory equipment – including the purchase of a new £50,000 pastry mixer – as well as plans to grow its workforce from 39 to around 54.

The new management team has also signed a deal to buy the freehold of its site, which managing director Ed Miles believes represents a “commitment” to its future.

He said: “When you take on a high risk business you have to run it really skinny until you can prove that the model is sustainable, which we have done.

“In year two there will be higher costs as we look to introduce a revised product range into the marketplace and more people into the business.

“The previous business struggled to invest any money into the factory because they were not making any. We have three to five years’ worth of catching up to do.
“We are now into an accelerated business model so we can leap-frog the business’ capability.”

Commercial director Helen Lynn said that the company had been fulfilling orders at the pace predicted by the previous owners, who appointed liquidators in February last year.

“Previously it was a lot of production to order whereas we have been moving to a steady production through the year, so when we have peak periods we have the stock on hand,” she said.

“Looking back at the first year, we have kept the core customers and suppliers that we needed and the changes we made to maintain services levels have worked. Some of our customers are looking to make stronger partnerships with us on the back of how the business has changed.”

The directors are hoping to exploit the business’ relatively small size and flexibility to promote it as a producer of “bespoke” products – an approach which has already won it a contract to make quiches for a retailer in Northern Ireland.

The new trend for ‘colourful’ food

Commercial manager Helen Lynn said new product innovations would need to reflect the change in people’s eating habits.

While core products such as quiches will remain at the heart of Finedale Foods’ range, alterations will be made to appeal to consumers’ desire for colourful, fresh-looking food – for example open sandwiches and veg-rich frittata bites.

“Some of the classic buffet foods do not fit with younger generations, people with food allergies or those who want a more vegetable-based diet. We need to be meeting that need,” Ms Lynn said.

“There will be a definite move to making lighter and brighter food to fit with the way younger people in particular are eating. If you go to M&S or Pret [A Manger] there are a lot of bright colours.”

She added that next year’s product ranges are likely to continue the trend for “brighter, fresher” food, with an extra emphasis on using produce which is in season.

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