Two Hampshire Fare producers chosen for innovative business support programme

Two Hampshire Fare producers chosen for innovative business support programme

An exceptional working partnership between The Southern Co-operative and Chichester College has resulted in the official launch of 'Routes to Market', a business and retail skills package aimed to help small and medium sized food and drink businesses.

The Routes to Market (RTM) package has been designed to support small and medium sized food and drink producers across Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight with the skills and training to help them create workable business plans and financial forecasts. The package also enables producers to ensure that health and safety is exemplar and due diligence audits are in place.

Shelagh Legrave, Principal of Chichester College in West Sussex, explained:

'It is estimated that 89% of start up food and drink businesses do not survive the first three years of trading and that the key factor to business failure is weak business planning. Routes to Market aims to help start up food and drink businesses with the scaffolding to set up and grow their business and generate their best route to their chosen market.'

Shelagh added: 'But it's not just about start up businesses; existing businesses with fantastic products and a passion for local food and drink also have the chance to renew their vision and review their business objectives using pertinent questions from the RTM Handbook or forecasting business growth using the financial modelling package available.'

The package has been road tested by some respected food and drink producers including Caroline's Dairy, Bookhams Fine foods, 3 Harbours Beef, Montezuma's, More Foods, Lickyogurt and Bangers Galore. All of the businesses have valued the chance to take time away from their day to day operations and reflect on their next steps, but as significantly, they valued the chance to share ideas with like minded passionate people. As part of the RTM launch, The Southern Co-operative is also sponsoring three producers, two from Hampshire; New Forest Aromatics and Little Bee Bakery and West Sussex ice cream producer, Caroline's Dairy, to undergo the RTM business planning workshop.

Mark Smith, The Southern Co-operative's Chief Executive said: 'The Southern Co-operative is strongly committed to local food sourcing. Our Local Flavours range has around 1000 lines of local produce across our estate in southern England and sales of this range have grown by 40% in the last year. However, we want to do more than put local food on our shops'

shelves. This collaborative working model has created a programme that supports food and drink businesses and works to ensure sustainable economic growth within the South East. This is key to the long term recovery of the economy and employment and most importantly allows fabulous food and drink from the region to reach a wider and appreciative audience.'

More information is available at, where you can sign up to receive details of business workshop dates or call Hannah Vaughan at Chichester College on 01798 877 405.

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