Jam-manufacturer Wilkin & Sons has revealed ambitions to expand its chain of tearooms beyond its Essex base.

The jam-maker opened its first tearoom at its Tiptree factory and museum 21 years ago and now runs ten shops. It is one of a number of diversifications for the business, which has also launched a strawberry liqueur, tomato ketchup and wholegrain mustard.

Joint managing director Ian Thurgood told The Times that tearooms was an area “where we have the most potential for growth over the next five years”. March saw the opening of Tiptree’s tenth tearoom, The River View Café, in Heybridge on the Essex coast.

Thurgood added the tearooms operate on an “80-20” rule where 80% of things are uniform to the chain and 20% can be more personalised, depending upon locations. The tearooms serve a mixture of breakfasts and lunch options along with traditional afternoon tea items.

40 years

Separately, it was announced that Thurgood was to retire at the end of the month after 40 years with the company.

He said: “I’ve had the good fortune to work with some exceptional people at Wilkin & Sons. I hope some of what I’ve learned along the way has rubbed off on to others.

“Of course, I shall be sad to leave after so many years, but I am looking forward to finding new challenges.”

Peter Wilkin, Chairman of Wilkin & Sons, said: “Over the course of the years he has worked here, Ian has played a very major part in the expansion and development of Wilkin & Sons in general, and the Tiptree brand in particular, for which the company is very grateful. He will undoubtedly be missed, and he leaves with our very best wishes for the future.”