Roaming Roosters: Sticking to tradition

“Strangely, despite being true Northeners, we had no sales presence in the North, which we didn’t like, but perishables online hadn’t taken off here like it had in London and surrounding areas, so we knew we needed to add a retail offering to make it work all round. Rather than just building a warehouse to distribute from we decided to build a farm shop and bistro and we couldn’t have picked a worse time in 2011 to start looking for finance!

“We needed to raise around £500k for the building and £80k for kit to do this and we were turning over around £50k a year! It was flat ‘no’ everywhere we approached for funding; we didn’t even get in through the door of most banks.

“Eventually my parents re-mortgaged their house and loaned us around £180k in order to get the build going. I managed to secure a bridging loan for £350K and get the builder to give us 120 day payment terms, luckily for us, the construction trade was completely flat lining so builders needed work, so it was beneficial all round. It was pretty tight and looking back quite a daunting time – we had 12 months to build or we would have gone bump and taken our parents down in the process!

“That was a real incentive to get our finger out and get it completed and we’re proud to say building started in November 2011 and we opened Sept 4th 2012. In October 2012 I managed to secure a re-mortgage from NatWest with the help of a growth mentor and the use of our brand to promote the NatWest Funding For Lending Scheme. The business took off so quickly we had instant profitable accounts giving us more affordability for lenders.”

Indeed, the company has been flourishing, gaining vast media attention and numerous accolades to boot. But what caused their boost in growth and how do they plan to maintain it? It seems the big igniter was introducing retail alongside online.

“We jumped around 2,000 per cent in revenue 2012/13 when we opened up our brand to a Northern customer base. This gave us much better cashflow to then inject back into the online trade. We then started bringing on board other websites and resellers giving us pretty explosive growth.

“As we started to introduce more resale clients and large wholesalers in 2013, cashflow became a real issue – due to the growth we needed cash for more industrial equipment, operating space and stock. So we began building a new industrial site around ten miles down the road but knew we couldn’t go any further without a substantial cash injection.

“I had been receiving mentoring on how to manage the growth by Matthew Riley CEO of Daisy Group Plc. Matt saw the issues we faced and offered to invest and it was at this point Grassroots Wholesale Foods was born and allowed the group to grow revenue another 400 per cent 2013/14.

“We removed all the wholesale and online trade into the new company as we had already outgrown the Roaming Roosters site in Higham, and the online trade was starting to hurt the retail trade which ultimately drove our decision.

“Grassroots specialises in resale of our products allowing people to sell our products through their own online stores. We now distribute for around 15 websites and also pre-pack and drop ship for other large online retailers. All the distribution for the Roaming Roosters brand also takes place from here and this feeds the shop.

“This has given us a central distribution facility which my brother controls; handling all products and directing them to the correct outlets. This enables us to retain control while at the same time allowing huge scalability.

“In turn, this has allowed Roaming Roosters to concentrate on growing the retail trade.”

The growth doesn’t stop there. Grassroots are moving to a 30,000q ft premises in the New Year, having outgrown their first, and once their site is finished they have a retail roll out plan in place for Roaming Roosters to create another ten retail based shops over the next couple of years.

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