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.