A growing Lancashire dairy, the first wholesaler in the country to supply free range milk, has set its sights on supplying UK supermarkets following support and advice from Boost; Lancashire’s Business Growth Hub.
The free range milk was launched in 2015 by Morecambe-based Stephensons Dairy, which works with four North West dairy farmers and a Skipton-based processor, who wanted to make sure consumers could have the choice of knowing where their milk is from when buying it. It now supplies free range milk to milkmen and women, hotels, schools, colleges, grocers and artisan coffee roasters and coffee houses including Lancaster-based J Atkinson & Co.
Now, the business is in conversation with retailers on a larger scale and eventually aims to get its free range product stocked in major supermarkets. This year, it’s looking to expand its range to include free range cheese and butter and its milk will also feature on Channel 4’s Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast this month.
The company received support in the first phase of Boost which resulted in job creation and has received further support to aid its growth plans through Boost’s Growth Mentoring programme, which provides support to SME business owners in areas such as business planning, finance, sales, marketing and HR. Growth Mentoring is a fully funded programme delivered by Community and Business Partners and Orvia.
The overall aim is to accelerate the growth of SMEs to stimulate new investment and job creation by identifying and removing the barriers to their growth. The business embarked on the Growth Mentoring programme as it looked to continue to grow the business and received one to one mentoring. Director Steph Stephenson said: “The mentoring has improved our daily routines, structure and empowerment of employees; it has enabled the directors to focus on developing strategies to help grow the business. “In the past six months we have taken on a new employee and hope to create another post in the next six months. Turnover will also increase as we develop a wider customer base and extended products to current customers. “The mentoring was great. Aside from being really helpful, informative and easy to work with Paul Aisthorpe, our mentor, was available through email to help with challenging situations. I would recommend the services of Boost and urge all businesses with high growth potential to make the most of the support on offer through Boost’s wide range of business support programmes.”
Steph added: “Since we set up in 2011 it’s been a really exciting journey. We are passionate about free range milk and being enabling customers to make an informed choice about their milk. We support the farmers throughout the whole process and the free range milk is fully traceable. In the past year, we have seen our doorstep supply sales increase, and as we’ve grown we’ve been able to educate the consumer.”
Jaydee Davis, operations manager at Community and Business Partners, said: “Stephensons has already made a big difference to the market place since its launch in 2011 and has many big plans going forward. Growth Mentoring is all about providing business owners like Steph with fresh perspective and another pair of eyes to help them improve current systems and structures, to help them grow and get the most out of their business.
We’re pleased to have been able to give that assistance and wish the team well for its next chapter.” Boost Business Lancashire has received £3.8m of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for ERDF. Established by the European Union ERDF funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.
For more information, visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding