Having spent his career in the wine industry, we spoke to Guy Smith from Smith & Evans vineyard in Somerset to find out why he thinks…
Amanda Stansfield is founder of Granny Gothards, a manufacturer and distributor of artisan ice cream in the UK and around the world.
Since being founded on a dairy farm in Somerset in 2012, Granny Gothards has grown from making just about 10 flavours of ice cream for local restaurants to 195 flavours (at the moment!) whilst distributing ice cream to countries including Dubai, Singapore and China with other countries coming on board.
How did Granny Gothards begin?
I founded Granny Gothards in 2012 and we were based on a little farm in Somerset to start off with. My background is in finance, I’m actually a manufacturing accountant, so to move into ice cream production was totally new for me. But it was a challenge that just was right time and I wanted to do something different. I never really thought we would get to where we are now becoming an international ice cream supplier.
I worked with Johnson & Johnson and then Cable & Wireless where I learned so much about how to run a business and how not to run a business. I went there for six months, and 12 years later I thought, “I need to do something different.” And then the opportunity came up with Granny Gothards, I’d met Jean, my best friend there whilst I was working there. She was involved in the marketing and tourism side of that business, and we just were looking to do something together.
What makes Granny Gothards stand out from the competition?
Why we’re so different is because we do a bespoke service. We have our best flavours that sell time and time again (vanillas, chocolates, salted caramels, speckled mint etc) but because we offer this bespoke service to chefs, working closely with them in developing flavours to match their desserts they’re putting on their menus, that’s led us to where we are.
An example is apple pie – You’re making a really wonderful French apple tart, or a Dutch apple cake, and although vanilla ice cream will go with it, cinnamon ice cream will really pick up those flavours and enhance the flavour of the apple.
The other way it works is if there’s a themed restaurant for example a Portuguese restaurant. They wanted something specific based on Portuguese desserts. We created Molotof ice cream – a salted caramel ice cream with chopped up meringue pieces stirred through and added chopped hazelnuts. All of a sudden that became the star of the menu, and it wasn’t as an accompaniment to a dessert, that actually became a standalone ice cream.
Why did you choose to export overseas?
We started to look to export to get rid of the seasonality that ice cream manufacturers go through. A lot of ice cream manufacturers just literally close their doors. My staff are my biggest asset, and back in 2015 when I could hear the girls in the production working out what days they were going to work, I just thought, “I don’t want them to stop working, I want to keep them going through the wintertime.” I thought Dubai would be a good market because 365 days a year sunshine, high-net-worth individuals looking for luxury products.
I stalked a guy on LinkedIn (it’s an amazing tool for finding the right people to speak to) and luckily for me, he agreed to a meeting. He had massive experience in food service and retail as well and had set up a distribution business in Dubai with three others.
We were also approached in the middle of the pandemic from somebody who runs the Tmall Global platform in China. I thought “if we can get ice cream to Dubai we can get ice cream to China” and are moving to the Tmall Classic program and going onto their e-platform.
And from that then, we spoke to Australia yesterday morning, and we’re working with somebody in Australia who is part of our organization in Dubai.
How do you balance managing retail, distribution, food service and manufacturing streams?
Yeah, it is a challenge, without any shadow of a doubt. How we manage it here is a great team – we have a fantastic production manager and a production supervisor who are absolutely key and on the ball when it comes to supply chain. And then with the contact between retail, it’s a new market for us to go into which we’ve heavily gone into because of COVID. But our business development manager, has retail experience so I leave her to do that side, and I get involved on calls, and with costings, and information like that.
I tend to deal with the food service, I love working with chefs, it’s where we started, and it is my absolute passion. Then we have finance, which obviously is the key to it so I’ve got a great bookkeeper and we work very closely as a team to manage the whole cash flow. So it is difficult but what we tend to find is that retail is steady throughout the year, the food service has huge peaks and troughs in it and hopefully now we’re set up, the export market levels out those peaks and troughs.
We’ve got a fantastic team, and we’re all working for the same aim, and we have understanding of each other’s issues.
Why work with PKF Francis Clark?
PKF Francis Clark has an amazing food and drink sector and have experience in dealing with companies both large and SME’s within that sector. Both Nick and Steve have always been very interested in my business and have been a great source of advice even before I started officially working with PKF Francis Clark.
© All photos have been provided by Granny Gothards
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