Made up of over 400 companies and worth over £900 million, Greater Manchester’s food and drink sector is seeing strong market growth with large manufacturers investing in the city region and home-grown independent companies setting-up and expanding.
One of the sector’s growing success stories is The Bury Black Pudding Company; a Greater Manchester-based black pudding manufacturer that has moved rapidly from market stall to purpose built factory supplying the UK’s top supermarkets and food retailers.
Founded in 2002 by Debbie Pierce and Richard Morris – who together have over 40 years experience in black pudding manufacturing – the business was built from a small factory in Farnworth. Sales quickly increased both over the internet and at its longstanding stall at Bury Market.
After just three months, Asda’s local sourcing initiative saw the company’s black pudding rings and slices being sold in 10 local Asda stores and, on the back of enquiries from another national supermarket, a brand new factory in Bury was built where The Bury Black Pudding Company has been located since February 2006. In the same year, the company also achieved a grade A accreditation in quality from the British Retail Consortium.
“Black pudding had not been made in Bury since the 1950’s so it was like bringing black pudding back to its roots,” says Debbie Pierce, Managing Director of The Bury Black Pudding Company.
The brand and its reputation for quality black pudding grew and within 18 months, the company expanded from nine to 37 staff with production increasing from five tonnes to over 17 tonnes per week. The Bury Black Pudding Company has continued to grow despite the tough economic climate. The fully equipped factory now produces 28 tonnes per week and continues to grow.
The company, which still uses traditional production methods and a recipe dating back over 100 years, now supplies , Tesco, Sainsburys, Asda, Waitrose, Co-op, Iceland, Selfridges and Booker as well as many wholesale butchers, restaurants, farm shops, hotels and pub chains. A recent success story has been the move to supplying sliced black pudding to ready meal companies.
The Bury Black Pudding Company has been part of the Greater Manchester Food & Drink Network for over five years. Sponsored by MIDAS, Manchester’s Inward Investment Agency, the network aims to bring together food and drink manufacturers from across the city region. It provides a forum for knowledge exchange, developing trade and improving operational effectiveness.
The network has proved to be a valuable tool for The Bury Black Pudding Company as Debbie explains: “Through the network, we have been able to meet other key manufacturers in the city region. It has been great for networking, making contacts and developing collaborative relationships. It also helps keep us up to date with what’s going on in the industry, available funding opportunities or any new issues or legislation that may affect us such as new health and safety regulations. The network certainly helps to raise your profile and grow your business.”
In addition to sponsoring the Greater Manchester Food & Drink Network, MIDAS works with companies in the sector to help them grow by offering advice on site and premises identification and assistance with recruitment and training.
In 2008 MIDAS put The Bury Black Pudding Company in touch with the Manufacturing Institute, enabling the company to take advantage of the Institute’s lean manufacturing advice. Bringing its experience of other factories and manufacturers, the Institute worked with The Bury Black Pudding Company to identify areas where operations could be made more efficient, streamlining manufacturing & administration processes and achieving energy and cost savings.
MIDAS also helped by working with The Bury Black Pudding Company to assess eligibility and help identify potential grants. One such grant helped the company buy new equipment, take on new staff and work towards increasing its output to the high level required by the large amount of new business secured.
“ Black Pudding is a wholesome, reasonably priced food that continues to sell well both in supermarkets and on-line. Our aim is to get our high quality black pudding on every supermarket shelf in the UK,” says Debbie. “With investment and growth we will be able to supply on that level in the not too distant future.”
The Company has seen a steady increase in online sales as well as a growing demand for its black pudding in the South of England – with some areas matching demand in the North.
“The Northwest’s reputation for high quality food products is continuing to grow. The market is booming and Greater Manchester is a great place to be based,” explains Debbie.
“Centrally located, with outstanding transport links for distribution and with advice and support readily available through organisations such as MIDAS and the Food & Drink Network, we wouldn’t want to be based anywhere else.”