In this manufacturer close up, we speak to Helen Lynn, commercial manager at Finedale Foods.
Finedale Foods bought the Frank Dale brand in March 2017 after it entered liquidation, saving around 50 jobs in the process.
Nearly 18 months in, Helen and the team have stabilised the business and are on course to increase turnover in line with their growth strategy.
Tell me more about Frank Dale
Frank Dale, the main brand of Finedale Foods, specialises in premium party food including quiches and canapé, and is well-known in the foodservice industry.
We employ 45 people and have a £3.7m turnover. Our factory is based in Norfolk and is quite a complex set up due to the variety of products we manufacture. We have 70 different products, many with multiple varieties per pack, ranging from large and mini quiches, mini meat pies, frittatas, and bite-size desserts such as black forest gateaux.
We focus on foodservice and our customers include large retailers, airlines, national as well as regional wholesalers and cash & carries.
Why did you get involved in Finedale?
I joined because I wanted to help turn a failing company into something really successful using my skills and expertise.
I have 23 years’ experience in the food industry, including 15 years at Premier Foods. My knowledge is wide-ranging, following stints in commercial, marketing, and research and development departments.
I‘m very passionate about food and the prospect of working in a new environment with premium products was also very appealing.
What are the company’s goals?
The first 12 months was all about stabilising the business, which we achieved. In that period we strengthened the structure and operations and maintained sales levels.
In the next 12 months we are seeking to grow turnover by 10 per cent on the Frank Dale brand.
What product changes have you made?
We have very high standards for our products. If I’m not happy to take it home to my family, we won’t sell it.
For example, we are re-launching our 11-inch quiche range. It was a 20-year-old recipe and it didn’t live up to what the brand promised.
We changed the recipes to use more premium ingredients, so they now use free-range eggs, fresh milk, and fresh vegetables. Each variety can be determined by looking at it. The range will include Quiche Lorraine, topped with bacon and cheese, Mexican Salsa topped with tomato and peppers, Broccoli and Stilton, and Brie with Sun-dried tomato, topped with sliced Brie.
What about investment?
We have an ongoing investment strategy to continue to improve the way we operate and to future proof against planned growth.
For example, pastry is at the heart of what we do, so we installed temperature control systems where the pastry is made to help ensure a consistent quality.
In addition, we have installed a new blast freezer and increased the capacity of our freezer warehouse.
What benefits has Erudus provided?
We manufacture close to 70 products using a range of ingredients including eggs, milk, meat, fish, vegetables, and cheese.
Having the ability to update our customers with the click of a button is fantastic. More importantly, it means each customer has accurate information to pass on to the end user.
Not having spreadsheets and documents to manually fill in means our team can tackle business challenges linked to growth and sales, which is much more rewarding for all involved.