The Business Investors Group has invested in excess of £28 million since it was formed in September 1997. Below is a testimonial for one of the investments carried out by members of BiG.

Olivia’s Artisan Foods Limited

Transforming a Craft Business

Olivia’s Artisan Foods Limited bakes high quality artisan bread and creates interesting and delicious food, which is currently sold through five specialist bakeries and cafes, located in Darlington, Hurworth, Northallerton, Thirsk and Stokesley.  The range of bread and baked products are also supplied to hotels, restaurants, pubs and other distributors across the North of England.

The business was established in September 2012 to acquire the Clervaux Artisan Bakery and Cafe. The bakery and cafe was operated by the Darlington based charity, Clervaux Trust, set up as a social enterprise providing work experience for vulnerable adults.  It also operated a food ethos committed to creating all of its own food, sourcing organic and local ingredients to create very high quality and nutritious products.

Under the new brand, ‘Olivia’s Artisan Bakery and Cafe’, the food ethos of the Trust and the support for vulnerable adults remain, but the enterprise has a more commercial focus. In the past 2 years the turnover has grown to £1M and there are now 60 staff spread across the business’s five locations.

Following the successful implementation of the 2102 to 2014 business plan the challenge for the Directors of Olivia’s Artisan Bakery & Café was to put a plan in place that would enable them to increase revenues and profitability four to five times over the next three years. The tasks could be viewed simply as obtaining the funding to enable bakery capacity to expand and to open more outlets but the growth of the enterprise involved defining in detail the business and marketing focus of Olivia’s Artisan Bakery & Café and the internal transformations that will support the expanding business.

Prior to seeking the finance required for taking the enterprise to the next level – £4M+ revenues and over 100 people employed – the Directors of Olivia’s Artisan Bakery & Café asked Generate Ventures LLP (GVN LLP) to conduct a review of their operations and to prepare a business plan to define the finance required for the growth and transformation of the enterprise. Once that document was signed off by the Directors Olivia’s Artisan Bakery & Café worked with GVN LLP to obtain the six-figure sum required from grant applications, equity funders, loan and asset finance providers. The funding was obtained in September 2014 with the business transformation project commencing on time in October 2014.

BiG Members and associated private investors provided over 40% of the Olivia finance package.

Rick McCordall, Managing Director of Olivia’s Artisan Bakery & Café
Colin Coates and Gavin Form from GVN LLP were instrumental in helping us raise the necessary finance to fund our expansion plans.  In addition they opened our eyes to appreciate the importance of the wholesale market to our growth plans and to the need to extend our product range to increase both customers spend and service levels.

Chris Gilman, Finance Director of Olivia’s Artisan Bakery & Café
In preparing the business plan for us GVN LLP introduced innovative thinking and the minutia of detail required to successfully implement a business change programme. They challenged our thinking and brought clarity to our decision-making. We now are fully aware of the additional experience and skills the business requires to continue to be successful as we expand our operations. The recruitment programme is in full swing.

Colin Coates – BiG Chairman
Rick and Chris have demonstrated over the past two years their ability to change a business and meet fiscal and expansion targets. I am sure they will be able to replicate that success while implementing their 3-year strategic plan.

Project Progress – May 2015
Since receiving the new funding in late September 2014, Olivia’s Artisan Bakery & Cafe has progressed rapidly to execute the business plan.

The central bakery & kitchen has been moved to a larger production facility, which has enabled the business to significantly grow output. This has allowed Olivia’s to engage the wholesale market with very positive early results.

The management team has been restructured and strengthened with the key addition of Adrian Watson as Director of Food & Operations. Adrian has over twenty-five years’ experience in the food sector, including seven years at the 21 group.

The Company is in the process of opening two new flagship outlets; on the High Street in Gosforth and on Goodramgate, York