Appearing on BBC TV’s Dragons’ Den helped Yorkshire cake entrepreneur Allison Whitmarsh secure the backing she needs to build cake factories across the UK.
On the Christmas edition of the show, broadcast on December 23, Whitmarsh asked the Dragons to invest £50,000 for a 25% stake in her premium cake business ProperMaid.
Theo Paphitis and Deborah Meaden battled for a stake in the company and Deborah Meaden won.
Meaden’s connections have already opened doors for the Yorkshire businesswoman.
Whitmarsh told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “Deborah’s input has already gone above and beyond what I was expecting. She’s connected me with the people I’d like to be doing business with. She arranged a meeting with a food consultant, which has opened doors for me at John Lewis and Selfridges, as I’d like to sell my cakes in their coffee shops .”
Revival of great British baking
Meaden said: “This is the next stage in the massive revival of great British baking and Allison is a tremendous example of how entrepreneurs with great ideas, excellent products, a sound business model and the passion and drive to succeed can quickly make a difference in business, as well as in their local communities. Together we’ll achieve great things for ProperMaid.”
Whitmarsh will now upgrade processing equipment at her Yorkshire bakery to help meet increasing demand for her cakes.
She said: “We’re looking at maximising productivity here but we needed the investment to get better equipment. Once the upgrade is up and running we’ll be looking at building another unit.”
Whitmarsh plans to build another cake production facility in the south of England to be closer to her growing customer base.
She estimates that the new site will create up to 20 jobs and will be up and running by the end of 2013.
To get national coverage for her product Whitmarsh will then build new factories in the Midlands and Scotland. This plan is based on the advice of Dragon Hilary Devey, who outlined a business model when Whitmarsh appeared on the show.
“Hilary gave me my five-year business plan in 10 minutes,” said Whitmarsh. “She was very, very good. Logistics has been my biggest problem and she’s very strong in that area. I’m looking to replicate her business model now.”
Based in Huddersfield, ProperMaid was founded by former dinner lady Allison Whitmarsh, who built the business with the help of a local Business Mine initiative. Her ‘traditional cakes with a twist’ have caught customers’ eyes with their unusual ingredients such as courgette and lime, liquorice, dandelion and burdock and beetroot and chocolate.
On Dragons’ Den Whitmarsh pitched her Christmas Dinner Cake, which contains carrots, parsnips, cranberries, Christmas spices, chestnuts and sprouts.