Established in 2006, Fylde Fresh and Fabulous is one the UK’s largest suppliers of freshly prepared chips under its brand Triple F Chips. Chief executive Simon Leaver talks about starting the business almost 15 years ago and taking the next step in building a second factory
In 2003, I started working for potato grower Colin Bradley. We mainly supplied McCain and, in fact, we were one of its largest independent growers. However, with the frozen chip market plateauing and with margins being squeezed, we started exploring alternative markets, including growing in Poland.
After much research we decided to remain UK-based and took our first real step into a different supply chain by acquiring Bowman’s Potato Merchants, supplying bagged potatoes into chip shops and restaurants in northwest England.
This led to a discussion with a small, local peeler who wanted better premises for their operation. Believing this to be a growing market, we developed a plan to build a larger chip processing plant. With a combination of a European grant, our bank and shareholder funds, Fylde Fresh and Fabulous was created in 2005. We also brought in David Linton, Victoria Singleton and Simon Butcher as investors and who also had additional skills in sales, finance, logistics and potato processing.
The factory, with a capacity to produce 250 tonnes per week, started production in 2006 with a mighty five tonnes in the first week! We did wonder if we could ever fill it by having to build a customer base from scratch. However, in the past three years, our challenge has been how to meet ever-increasing demand with the factory churning out up to 400 tonnes per week and having to turn away business at the same time.
As such, and again after comprehensive research and planning, we decided to invest in a second factory on the same site and, at the same time, purchase the premises, a £5.5 million investment.
"In the past three years, our challenge has been how to meet ever-increasing demand, with the factory churning out up to 400 tonnes per week."
With the second factory now in production, it allows us to continue to expand. I have been asked why our growth has been fairly rapid in a very conservative market. I think it’s a combination of learning and developing a consistently good chip product, through all the variables that occur in every potato growing season.
You need an ‘attention to detail’ mentality in growing and processing, but we also have a network of distributors and quality chip shops regularly feeding back on quality.
We have seen an evolution, not a revolution, in chip shops moving from peeling in-house to taking a prepared chip. It’s not for everyone and there are shop owners who still love doing their own preparation. However, where we get growth is with new shops who evaluate the cost of a prep room, increasing costs of water, labour and waste management, and then decide that a regular, quality prepped supply makes more sense.
So the journey we started 14 years ago feels very much like starting again in many respects. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before we are scratching our heads again and thinking about factory three.
Fylde Fresh & Fabulous 01253 836444 www.fyldefreshandfabulous.com
Five things you might not know about Fylde Fresh & Fabulous
- Fylde Fresh & Fabulous delivers Triple F Chips to over 300 chip shops throughout the UK
- Every potato peeled can be fully traced back to its field, along with its growing regime and history
- Every fresh batch of Triple F Chips is fry-tested and quality-assessed before being distributed.
- All potato trimmings are turned into energy to power and heat the production facility, meaning there is no waste
- Fylde Fresh & Fabulous is Red Tractor accredited, which guarantees the food it produces is safe to eat, fully traceable back and produced responsibly from field to fork.