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25/12/2006 | Channel:
English Provender is a manufacturer of a range of sauces, dressings and condiments
With a wide variety of products, all of which are ,recognised favourites in the market, English Provender Company is a highly respected name in the food industry. The business supplies its comprehensive range of branded products into the retail sector, while its private label business caters for major multiples along with smaller businesses and specialist food distributors. In addition, the company produces a wide range of private label products for manufacturers of mayonnaise and
The majority of the company's business takes the form of producing sauces, condiments, chutneys, dressings, marinades and preserves for consumption in the UK. English Provender has a small proportion of its business, about ten per cent, that involves export, most of which is to the US, but you can find the company's own brand products in various other countries around the world. Half of English Provender's production is dedicated to its own brands, which are national favourites as sandwich-fillers. The rest of the production is based on the manufacture of private
label items for major food producers in the UK and US; this adds a solid back-up to its the successful own brands.
Founded in 1991, English Provender has evolved rapidly over the 15 years that it hasbeen in operation. When it began the company was a small and specialist manufacturer, supplying its goods to the independent and gift shop market, and since then it has increased its product range significantly and now deals with outlets of all
sizes. In 1998 Edward Billington & Son, with almost 150 years ofexperience in the food ingredients trade, acquired English Provender, adding force to any product development or launch. Most recently, in 2004 the group added Suffolk Foods to its British organisation, and this has been integrated into English Provender's operations.
To boost the transition period following the merger, a new factory has been built in Newbury that offers extra capacity as well as new, state-of-the-art technology. The new site, which has a total floor area of93,000 square feet, was completed in June 2005 and has been running smoothly for a number of months now. David Garland, the company's commercial director, outlines the reasons behind the merger and how it has benefited English Provender:
"There were some clear, potential synergies between the companies, and the main attraction of Suffolk Foods was the fit with English Provender. As well as this the company was well managed, was an established and respected outfit and made excellent products. The synergies will offer good cross-selling opportunities for what are complimentary ranges. It will also allow the New Product Development (NPD) function to think much more freely about new concepts and build on insightand experience from an outstandingknowledge of both the manufacturing andretail sectors."
The integration of Suffolk Foods into the English Provender organisation is now complete, but the challenges for this combined business are really only just beginning, as David explains: "This is asignificant investment for the group. Although the integration process has gone incredibly smoothly, now is the time tofocus on consolidation and delivering the results that the new English Provender is capable of."
On-going development of the products and brands on offer is also key to the company going forward. "We have been occupied over the last 12 months with rebranding our English Provender retail range," David explains. "This has been a major project, which has involved both consumer and trade research, as well as a compete overhaul of the whole retail proposition. In the past customers have felt that we weren't communicating just how good our products taste, and this is a key part of the new marketing."
This re-branding has been supported by a comprehensive advertising campaign that focuses on many of the more popular ranges, including the iconic 'Very Lazy' range, and award winning Hot Horseradish. This is aimed at promoting the top-end consumer products that EnglishProvender produces.
The quality that the company offers is one of its outstanding features, with a series of items that are intended for themore discerning consumer. In this vein English Provender has been championing healthy options in its foods, in order to givethe customer a better product all-round, as David outlines: "Our philosophy is to keep things simple and only put in what really needs to be there: that gets you a long way down the line towards healthy eating. We were also early into the low fat dressings sector and we have remained there to add a differentiator for our brand in a highly competitive category. The products have succeeded because they are low in fat, between one and three per cent fat, and they stand up very well in taste comparisons to full fat. Our view on healthy food is that extreme 'lite' formulations are often a
struggle to enjoy. We observe the basic rules, produce something that satisfies, and in most cases this actually induces moderation."
The quality that the company can boast of is one of the traditions that it is trying uphold throughout the organisation. Having won industry awards for its Lemon Curd in the past, and last year taking gold and silver at the Guild of Fine Food Retailers' Taste awards for the Horseradish and Sweet Chilli Relish, English Provender is a proven success.
One of the key reasons for the unique taste that the company offers is due to its traditional cooking methods. "Our research has shown that people often buy English Provender products because they want food 'like Grandma used to make', but didn't have the time to make it themselves. We are unusual in using open-pan preserving techniques for our chutney and condiment products, and that's exactly why they have a sense of tradition. However, we have also adapted many of the recipes to modern tastes and style of cuisine: our products are timeless classics," concludes David.
"Our research has shown that people often buy English Provender products because they want food 'like Grandma used to make.