Founded in: 2003
Tip: “Always search out feedback and respond to it.”
Pie makers Pieminister started out selling a range of high-quality pies at festivals, before moving into supermarkets. Within 10 years, supermarket sales generated around 50-60 per cent of the company’s turnover.
When some retailers started pressuring the business to lower its prices, Pieminister held firm. As a result, the company was delisted by a number of stores.
“We put too much reliance on supermarkets,” said managing director and co-founder Tristan Hogg. “When we lost their business, it was really tough as it reduced sales by about 25 per cent in one year. We had a lot of staff to look after.”
Losing a significant portion of their sales made Tristan and partner Jon Simon reflect on their strengths. The pair also took a closer look at where their customers eat, reevaluating their growth strategy to reflect this.
The restaurant boom at the time encouraged them to invest more in growing that area of the business. They also focused on developing brand licensing through wholesale. This had grown solidly by getting pies into places like pubs, where they are sold with the Pieminister branding.
“Initially it was a reaction to something that was forced on us, but we realised that going in that direction was right for the way that our consumers eat. They don’t just go to supermarkets, they go to pubs and restaurants, so it made sense,” Tristan said.
The business now employs around 400 people and has an annual turnover of £20m, with far less reliance on supermarkets and an even spread across three core areas. Roughly one third of revenue comes from Pieminister’s own restaurants and one third is from brand licensing to pubs.
This means that supermarkets generate only a third of its sales now. Tristan wants this to be an even smaller portion of the business in the future.
“For us, it’s really important to keep opening more restaurants to help raise awareness. When we drop one into a new city, it has a positive impact on other parts of the business.”