A family-run Hertfordshire business has sealed a major supermarket deal after impressing buyers during a primetime Channel 4 TV show.
The Greek Farmer, which was started by Tony Charalambides when he moved into Langley Hill Farm in Hitchin, will supply over 15,000 packs of its cured meat to Aldi stores in the UK after it impressed on ‘Aldi’s Next Big Thing’ due to be aired later this year.
Faced with a massive surge of orders, the business turned to the Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP) for grants that would help it part-fund new packing machinery and a meat preparation area – critical if it was going to meet the retailer’s lead times.
Several new jobs have already been created because of the landmark order and marks what has been a whirlwind four years for the company after it transformed a disused metal grain silo into a walk-in smokehouse.
Tony Charalambides (2nd from the left) with members of The Greek Farmer team
Tony Charalambides, Director of The Greek Farmer, commented: “After many months and a lot of hard work, we found ourselves pitching at Aldi HQ as part of a TV series that airs later in the year. Our pitch went down a treat and we got through to the finals.
“And then, beyond our wildest dreams, our product impressed the buyers and we won! Then the hard work really started, and we had to consider how we would go about slicing and packing 15,000 packs of cured meat to supply Aldi!? Investing in new machinery was the only way this would be feasible, but we needed assistance to make this happen.”
Amanda Freeland, Manufacturing Growth Manager for MGP, met with The Greek Farmer to discuss its requirements and rapidly arranged for capital grant funding towards the cost of its new equipment.
This meant the company was able to meet the tight production timescales for the huge order, as well as building up significant capacity to support the future growth aspirations of the management team.
Tony went on to add: “The MGP support was a huge relief both for scalability and cashflow. It meant we could scale in the short space of time we had by investing in the machinery we needed. This, in turn, ensured we were in Aldi stores on time.
“Our Growth Manager was very helpful, professional, and made the process extremely straightforward. I look forward to working with her again in the future.”
The Manufacturing Growth Programme is currently the UK’s largest and leading business support programme for SME manufacturers.
The initiative, which is designed and delivered by Oxford Innovation Advice and funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), has secured more than £13.5m in grants for 4300 companies over the last three years, creating and safeguarding over 10,000 jobs in the process.
With ERDF funds being phased out, MGP is due to end in early 2023 unless the ‘essential lifeline for small to medium-sized manufacturers’ can be incorporated into the Shared Prosperity Fund.
Amanda Freeland, Manufacturing Growth Manager, added her support: “It is amazing that this small company, which only began fully trading in December 2021, was able to make such a hit with the Managing Director of Buying at Aldi.
“This was all down to the quality and consistency of its smoked cured meat products, and the family business will now gain recognition for this by being stocked in every Aldi store across the UK.
“It’s an incredible achievement, a great success story. I am genuinely delighted that MGP has been able to help it gear up to meet the growth challenge by supporting it with a grant for faster manufacturing equipment. The story is a genuine inspiration!”
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