WELSH SUCCESS STORIES
How are you contributing to Wales' vibrant economy?
We are always incredibly proud and excited by our contribution. Brighter Foods make healthy snack bars (eg slimming, sport, organic, Free From) for brand partners across the globe. Tywyn, which is the heart of our business, is a small town in mid-Wales and saw – like so many communities have seen – the impact of a factory closure five years ago. With not many other job opportunities around, those affected were left with a feeling of ‘well that’s it then’. Brighter Foods saw that happen and – as our ambitions grew to launch a new company in the town – saw how reluctant financial institutions were to invest in this rural location. But we found a way and look what that community has achieved via Brighter Foods (current turnover around £20m pa). We’ve established ourselves as the ‘go to’ people for businesses seeking to launch in this thriving sector, and launched our own brand Wild Trail (listed in Tesco and sold across Wales). Crucially, our growing team bought into our values (teamwork, quality, innovation) and the awards we’ve picked up – from Wales Start-up of the Year to SME Entrepreneur of the Year – are shared with them and testament to their way of working.
What does Vibrant Economy Wales mean to you and your organisation?
Brighter Foods has secured its success [we’ve just announced a further multi-million pound investment and a third production line in Tywyn] by focusing on innovation, quality and people, the stuff of a vibrant economy. SMEs are such a crucial part of Wales’ success story but we know – we’ve all seen – how those who sacrifice one of these things can lose their sense of purpose and ability to sustain growth. We love the people who work for us and we love the people we work for. We’ve achieved the Investors in People Accreditation and launched an apprenticeship programme, aware that it’s our skilled staff who maximise the potential of our site. When it comes to our clients, we are not the ‘normal’ contract manufacturer but see ourselves as a brand partner, part of their team. We understand their strategy and ambitions, and help them develop their ideas. As a result of our way of working many of these partners have been with us since the beginning and want to grow with us in the future. These ongoing relationships have allowed Brighter Foods to grow its Tywyn base, employ more local people, and keep pushing the boundaries with exciting, new products.
What key piece of advice would you give to others on their Vibrant Economy Wales journey?
Find a way to launch that allows you to focus on your business goals and values, and ensure the people you employ understand and buy into them and are supported by training and opportunity. Seek out and listen to advice, as well as your own instinct as you move forward. Think outside the box to achieve your goals, rather than compromising on them in a rush to grow. When we set up in 2014 our rural location put off potential investors, but we sought support from Welsh Government, Gwynedd Council and sourced and refurbished second hand machinery to help us turn a disused warehouse in Tywyn into the factory we needed to get to work. There was 18 of us then and we hoped to employ a further 20 people within two years, but we were employing over 150 within the same time period. The latest investment has been planned carefully in line with our values and ambitions for Tywyn. It will allow us to meet demand from existing and new customers and de-risk Brexit by ensuring we can make products for the UK in Wales. It also means we can employ another 50 people as we move forward.