When Binghams Foods celebrates its centenary next year, it will be doing so in the best possible way – on the back of a series of prestigious successes.
The company, famous for its Made in Sheffield potted beef, has added Tesco, Asda and the Co-op to a list of leading supermarket clients that already includes Sainsbury’s and Morrisons.
At the same time, Binghams’ products have been gaining popularity with independent delicatessens, the company has been expanding its geographical area, boosting its appeal with updated packaging, developing new products and looking at new ways of capitalising on its brand.
To an outsider, the challenges of surviving, never mind growing, for a 20-employee, family-owned food business, with a factory, surrounded by terraced houses in the heart of a residential district, might seem insurmountable.
But, Peter Moon and his wife Stella, turned Bingham’s back into a family firm in 2007, after almost 40 years in the control of one food giant or another, have taken it in their stride.
The acquisition – from an investment group – has the hallmarks of an “I liked the company so much, I bought it,” type of deal, given that Mr Moon had been Bingham’s general manager when it was owned by Northern Foods.
Although the Moons may not be from the original Binghams family, but it is clear they share founder Charles Bingham’s values and a passion for the company.
Rising demand for British beef may be pushing costs up, but Mr Moon is determined to ensure the company continues to use prime British beef and stick to Bingham’s original recipe.
“We use British beef and no offal. High quality, lean raw beef. The company has never compromised on quality,” says Mr Moon.
“I have this vision of Charles Bingham, leaning over my shoulder, looking at me and saying ‘Don’t change the recipe!’”
While the Moons have no plans to alter the original recipe for Bingham’s Potted Beef, they have introduced new products, just as Charles Bingham did in his day. They also make the most of being able to offer a stable, personal touch.
“There’s a lot of change in the food industry, with buyers and sales people moving around. One of the great things about having your own business is that you can be a consistent face and name,” Mr Moon explains.
And, if you do eventually get one of your products into a big retailer’s store and it proves a success, making the case for adding other products from the range and supplying other outlets becomes progressively easier.
“By gaining more listings with new supermarkets, we have pushed our geographical coverage,” says Mr Moon.
Top supermarkets are also keen to share the data they collect from their electronic tills, which means even a small company like Binghams can analyse sales by product and by store on a weekly basis.