Filbert’s Fine Foods moved to a small village near Glastonbury in early 2013, having outgrown its previous premises in Dorset. The company manufactures premium, all natural fine food snacks and antipasti delicacies and has been very successful, with growth rates of more than 60% per annum, but it needed a new home to accommodate its growing demand and ambition.
referring a rural location, Managing Director Mark Taylor says Somerset was their first choice thanks to its excellent transport connections. “Somerset was the county we wanted to focus on because it is close to Bristol and the networks available through Bristol airport, and to the M4 and M5, which are transport networks we’re using more and more to get to the bigger supermarket chains and head offices.
“We used Into Somerset to help us to look for farms and rural locations, and they were very helpful, coming up with interesting ways to use their networks to find out when places were becoming vacant.”
The firm’s new location is six times larger than the previous site. Marks explains, “It was affordable, it was an ex-BRC food accredited factory, it was in on the side of a farm, on the Somerset Levels, it just ticked all the boxes, so we decided to make the investment, take on the larger overheads and move.
“It took us about six weeks to modify the premises to fit our business and production, and we used local builders and local electrical contractors in Glastonbury to do all the work. The landlord and previous occupier were also extremely helpful, so it was a very smooth and very good move for us.”
Since then, Mark says, business has gone from strength to strength for Filbert’s Fine Foods. “In our previous location we were subcontracting warehouse space and gradually the business was becoming more and more inefficient, so we’ve improved our efficiency straight away here, which has given us immediate cost savings. Whilst there is a larger overhead, our business is already about 30% up on last year, which will probably finish up being more like 45% by the end of the year.”
Proving that the county’s strong transport connections work both ways, Mark says they have plenty of interested visitors coming to see them in their new Somerset site. “We’ve got Waitrose, Harrods, food supermarkets and a big brewery chain all coming to visit us. They’re all interested in our new bigger facility and what we can do for them as the new site indicates that we are a bigger company and a company serious about making a statement in the finer food industry, so the future is very bright and full of great prospects.”
Being near Glastonbury also seems to have helped. “It’s quite interesting when you mention the word Glastonbury as it gives people a sense of familiarity, which almost makes the place more accessible.”
Summing up the benefits of relocating their business to Somerset, Mark comments, “We are 35 minutes from the M5, we’re 45 minutes from the M4, 40 minutes from Bristol airport and 15 minutes from Castle Cary, which means I can be in London Paddington in under 2 hours. It’s a great place to be, you can get anywhere in the country quickly and easily, but importantly you’re also pretty close to fairly substantial food consuming areas of Taunton, Exeter, Bath, Salisbury and Bristol, which are all important markets for us.
“Somerset has got a very good reputation for food manufacturing and also has a great food network – we’re close friends with Orchard Pig, Yeo Valley, Bay Tree Food Company and James Chocolates. There are a lot of really good businesses here, and they’re all very keen to network and share information. It’s a really good environment for food businesses, and there are great local markets, farmers markets and artisan food shows.
“If you’re going to attract staff or relocate staff, it’s a lovely place to live as well, and I’d say the house prices are thirty per cent cheaper than many other areas, and at least 20% cheaper than Dorset or Wiltshire.”
Filbert’s Fine Foods has recently been selected for a European Development Grant Award, which has been used to help fund a packing line, employ two more people and fund two apprenticeships in food production. They now export to Denmark, Norway, Russia and China, and expect to be exporting to the Middle East by the end of the year. With some major contracts in the pipeline too, it certainly does look like the future is bright in Somerset for Mr Filbert and his team.
For full information on how Mendip District Council can assist your enquiry, please contact Jenny Pitcher on firstname.lastname@example.org - tel: 07827 983155 (Please refer to Into Somerset when making contact)