Nightmares with planning permission, finding out the machinery you’ve bought is completely unsuitable for your purpose, delays with getting the packaging and design sorted, a complete lack of government grants available and banks with a stonewall approach to funding new businesses... newly-formed Taste Essential was unfortunate to fall foul of all the above after acquiring its production site in June last year. "It hasn’t been easy," admits the firm’s undaunted director Tim Latham Taylor. "The last time I set up a business it wasn’t as hard as this. Banks don’t support new businesses and suppliers could be more helpful."
Some ingredients suppliers are over-cautious and he urges them to offer account facilities for new businesses. "Every new business has to pay cash on delivery or pro forma, and that puts you in hardship before you start."
But now the dust has settled, Taste has picked up five UK distributors, giving national coverage. "We have a sound business plan; foodservice suppliers have to shop around - they get their Danish pastries from one company, gateaux from another and muffins from another. We supply everything."
Officially launched in January, Taste Essential’s focus is on natural ingredients. "It’s frustrating competing just on price. There’s a better market out there than that. We use natural ingredients, and we only use natural or nature-identical flavourings. If it’s a chocolate muffin, for example, we’ll only use Barry Callebaut chocolate."
The next step will be rolling out half a dozen high-footfall cafés with 3,000sq ft or above units, supplied from the central bakery. The first outlet should open early next year, selling ground coffee and freshly squeezed juices, sandwiches and cakes. "We’re trialling our products in the market to see what sells and to see what’s slow. I’m taking a bit of Costa, a bit of Starbucks, putting it together with my own concepts and giving it a twist," he says. n
=== The pros and cons ===
I’m used to working with more sophisticated machinery, working in senior management for a larger company where it’s a privilege to be able to put a recipe together and let the production manager get on with it. I can’t do that here, and that was a bit of a shock. You have to adapt that recipe to your environment, and that took me some time.
Unique selling point
There are a lot of interesting ingredients in Europe, such as orange fillings, vanillas and caramels, that not many of our competitors in this market are using. So I’ll be bringing those in and making something slightly different. Europe will have a heavy influence on our products, such as croissants with natural raspberry fruit filling.
=== Going it alone ===
The firm: Leicester-based Taste Essential (Europe)
The brief: To create a foodservice cake bakery brand with a focus on using natural ingredients, supplying pallet quantities and above. A chain of branded café outlets will follow
Suppliers: Barry Callebaut, Macphie, Rank Hovis
Staff: six, including two directors
Finance: £200,000 self-financed, mostly spent on a manufacturing facility and machinery, with £50,000 going to brand development, packaging and labelling
Background: NPD and sales director Tim Latham Taylor sold his chain of four hot bread shops 10 years ago to Greggs.
Since then he has worked as a consultant, for a coffee chain, for a fairy cake company and, finally, in senior management at Leicester’s Blackfriars Bakery