“Large customers can be very hard to deal with and it’s not sensible to put all of your eggs in one basket,” he told FoodManufacture.co.uk for this photogallery. “Say you’re dealing with Tesco and it then decided to have a revamp, you could lose a large chunk of your business.”
‘Eggs in one basket’
Having one large customer could also shift control, as “they could be pushing your price and wasting your time because they know you’ve got to bend to whatever they want”, he warned.
Barney said he knew of businesses that relied on one large contract and have had to close down after losing it.
It was not only the loss of the business, “but a lot of people lose their jobs if one large contract goes,” he added.
“Sensible management” of working relationships with your customers was key, said Barney. “I would say with any business you’ve got to have that mix of large and small, otherwise you will be putting your firm at risk.”
No ideal figure
Coping with a broad range of customers meant adopting flexible production systems, he added.
“We have facilities to produce from a scale of 300kg to 300t by using two sizes of cooking vessels,” he said. “That way we can gather more and more customers to have a steady stream, as well as giving us flexibility.”
Meanwhile, Frecco is in talks with a national supermarket to supply one of its products, Barney revealed, but was unable to disclose any further information until talks were complete.
Read more about Paul Barney and his Southampton factory in the March issue of Food Manufacture by subscribing.