Pie business aims to take a bigger bite out of the market

An artisan pie maker has doubled the size of its headquarters and invested in new machinery to help keep up with growing demand for its gourmet products.

Jarvis Pickle, which has been helped by Business Gateway Scottish Borders, has added an office, chill and storerooms, and a packaging area to its current bakery and shop in Eyemouth.

With the help of a Scottish Borders Business Fund (SBBF) grant, it has also invested in industrial chillers that will help the company, which can make up to 1k pies a day, rapidly cool its products.

The family business, which employs nine staff, scooped two Gold awards at the British Pie Awards in March and has seen a 10% monthly increase in wholesale orders since January.

Jamie Brown, who runs Jarvis Pickle with his mother, Susie Upton, forecasts the company is on target to hit £300k turnover in June, smashing last year’s turnover figure six-fold.

He said: “Mintel estimates the pie market is worth £1.2 billion in the UK. Although we don’t want to be the next Greggs, we believe that by maintaining a consistently high standard of product we can quickly scale the business and become an exciting brand. Rapid growth will also help us create more local jobs in an area that has been hit hard by the decline in labour needed in both the fishing and farming industries.

“I’m an optimist and we’ve got to where we are by taking opportunities that have arisen to us, which includes using Business Gateway’s advice to successfully apply for SBBF funding. Initially, we received a grant that helped us buy an industrial oven that played a role in reducing our wastage from 20% to 0%. Most recently, funding has allowed us to buy chillers to cool our products to temperature in under 90 minutes. That means we can now start freezing our pies in advance of our busy summer season where we anticipate selling 15k pies alone in August. Without Business Gateway's advice and help to successfully apply for funding to purchase equipment it would have been harder for us to grow as quickly as we have.”

I’m an optimist and we’ve got to where we are by taking opportunities that have arisen to us, which includes using Business Gateway’s advice to successfully apply for SBBF funding.

Chris Trotman, Business Gateway, said: “Jarvis Pickle’s growing popularity means the firm could create a significant number of jobs in the future and become a household name while also inspiring other local producers with its success story. Susie, a former restauranteur, had previously used our advice so knew that we would be able to offer support to help the new business move forward. Our advice and network of contacts have helped Jamie and Susie expand their business quickly and successfully apply for funding to buy machinery, all of which will be fundamental to the company’s continued growth.”

In 2015, Susie launched Jarvis Pickle with a neighbour, Jim Lucas, in a bid to find a food product they could make that would help them avoid the unsociable hours normally associated with the catering industry. After hosting a series of pop-up restaurants they decided to focus on producing handcrafted pies, initially produced 100 pies a day in a converted stable. Susie’s son, Jamie, then joined the team to grow the enterprise and Jim left to follow other interests.

In 2017, the company moved to its present location and opened a farm shop at the bakery. A head baker was then employed to increase productivity in advance of attending events such as Edinburgh’s Ironman and the Fringe. In July and August that year, the company sold 15k pies.

This year the company has already attended six events and will set up stalls at a further 15 throughout 2018 including The Royal Highland Show and Edinburgh Jazz Festival. It will also cater for six weddings and will continue to sell wholesale to 30 shops, pubs, restaurants and caterers, distributing as far south as Torquay and north as Dundee.

Jamie said: “The first three months of the year are typically quieter months but, from January to March this year we saw production quadrupled compared to the same period in 2017. I believe people are switching onto our pies because they love the look, the taste, and the traceability of our ingredients, which are locally sourced from small producers wherever possible. For instance, our flour comes from one farm in East Lothian and we can tell people exactly which field the wheat was grown in.”

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