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02.03.07
Expanding Cornish company helps to reduce 'food miles'

Personal business adviser, Alex Nicholas samples the goods with founder director Sherry Boocock An expanding Cornish business is helping to reduce 'food miles' while at the same time increasing its annual turnover to £1 million and doubling the size of its premises, with help from Business Link Devon and Cornwall.

Plough to Plate, originally based in 2,000 sq ft of rented units at Doublebois, near Liskeard, sources and supplies quality Cornish food and drink to Cornish food outlets.

"Now operating from its own new 4,000 sq ft unit at Pensilva, the business is both a commercial and environmental success," said Alex Nicholas, personal business adviser with Business Link Devon and Cornwall which has supported the company since it started. "It provides a one-stop delivery shop for local fresh quality produce by collecting from local artisan producers and delivering a multitude of products locally in one drop," he explained. "The alternative would mean each producer making a journey to each customer which would result in many more CO2 emissions."

Building on its environmental aims, the company is also poised to offer remote home working to staff and to promote the use of car-sharing. Now in its fourth year, Plough to Plate lists 1,500 Cornish food and drink product lines from 100 local producers and has a base of 675 regular customers ranging from restaurants and pubs to corner shops.

Set up in 2003 with assistance from Business Link 's Cornwall Food and Drink Programme, Objective One and Cornwall Taste of the West, the business, which has six vans and ten employees, is currently in talks with national potential clients including a major cash and carry firm and a heritage organisation.

Founder directors Nigel and Sherry Boocock had food retailing experience and knew exactly the difficulties faced by both ends of the food supply chain. "Plough to Plate fills the gap between the two," said Sherry. "As a small specialist food producer it is not always easy to build up markets and new business while, for owners of eating and retail establishments, accessing Cornish food and drink from individual businesses can be a logistical nightmare. We provided a badly needed wholesaling and distribution service at a time when the interest in selling, eating and sourcing local foods was starting to take off.

"One major new initiative has been the cutting and labelling of whole cheeses ready for resale. This has given some of our smaller customers, for example post offices, an opportunity to sell more Cornish produce to which they otherwise would not have had access."

The company benefited from Business Link support for strategic workshops, communications and branding, business systems and processes, and a new website which will be launched shortly.

"The support really helped and the mentoring from Alex Nicholas is invaluable," said Sherry. "We see him every couple of months and he has assisted us to become a better business by sitting down with us and analysing what has been done, and how, and the way to move forward including changing roles in the company. With Business Link's help we have evolved from our early beginnings into the proper business that we are now, although there is still a long way to go."

Winner of a silver award in the Cornwall Business Awards 2006 and a finalist in the Devon and Cornwall Business Awards 2006, the company recently expanded its phone lines from two to six, improved its IT and introduced new racking and systems.

Looking to the future, Plough to Plate is planning to trial its business model in another county to prove that it can be successfully applied in other areas.


For further information contact Adam McPherson of the Marketing PR company on 01566 771861 or email amcpherson@marketing-pr.co.uk.

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in Business Link Devon and Cornwall through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).

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Editor's notes:

Business Link provides a free information and enquiry service via an information gateway on the web www.bldc.co.uk and via the telephone on 0845 600 9966 to all businesses and those considering starting a business. Additionally it provides impartial business advice and support through a network of partner organisations, which it co-ordinates, and a register of independent business practitioners. Business Link for Devon and Cornwall delivers the national Business Link service to the region under contract from the South West RDA.

Business Link has received Objective One investment (European Regional Development Fund and EAGGF) to help companies improve performance and grow.

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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