“Everything’s going miniature,” Classic Desserts director Rob Morrish told FoodManufacture.co.uk. “It’s all about offering the customer affordable indulgence in five or six bites. Many of the current dessert offerings don’t sell because they’re quite banal and the portions are too large.”
Classic Desserts supplies the foodservice sector, including coffee shops, restaurants, and pub chains. It recently received a “jaw-dropping response” to its new shot glass dessert range at this month’s (March’s) IFE show in London.
“Our 60g portions are great for impulse buys in coffee shops,” said Morrish. “And the coffee shop is the fastest growing sector. People often buy a high-margin tea or coffee to accompany their dessert.”
The company has also developed a 160g size to target the ‘sharing experience’.
Opportunities for exports
It is in discussions with retailers and is looking at opportunities for exports.
“We had a lot of interest in the products we exhibited at the IFE,” said Morrish. “They lend themselves well to exporting and we’ve interest from far and wide, including Malta, the Canaries, Scandinavia and the Emirates.”
The company has outgrown its existing premises in Keswick, Cumbria so has secured a combination of grant funding and private investment to build the factory.
The biggest hurdle was getting planning permission to build a bespoke factory in the Lake District. Having local residents working on the team helped to get permission granted. The land has now been cleared and the factory will be operational by the end of 2013. The jobs will be created over three years and some of the recruitment has already begun.
“We’re close to bursting point at the minute,” said Morrish. “We don’t want to inhibit our growth or compromise our operation. We have set and designed the factory to be flexible enough to move with the trends.”
‘Mergers and acquisitions’
Morrish comes from a strong food manufacturing background, having worked as operations director for Greencore, Uniq and Noble Foods. He decided to make a majority investment in Classic Desserts with long-term friend Ben Shamash who has a background in finance and mergers and acquisitions.
“We both felt that the bureaucracy of working for large corporations inhibited innovation,” said Morrish. “Everything moves so slowly that you might have a brilliant innovative idea but it will take too long to get it to market. We could both see opportunities for products that retailers would have bitten their hands off for but the speed to market was prohibitively slow.”
They decided to invest in a desserts company because they thought it provided the best market opportunity with the most potential for innovation and growth.
“We have low overheads so we can respond to trends innovatively and really quickly, which makes us hard to compete with,” said Morrish. “We're seeing growth in double digits.”