“Don’t do it unless you’re passionate about it.” This is the advice that Alex Albone, Director of Brigg-based Pipers Crisps, gives to anyone wanting to start out on a new business venture. With a lot of hard work and a few controversial ideas, Alex has created a thriving company with a £10 million turnover, but he couldn’t be more modest about it.
“Unless you really are going to put the hours in, forget it, because it’s not going to happen,” Alex said. “If you’re starting out, the truth is that you have to be passionate about it and know that there are going to be knocks along the way.”
This feature interview was first published in issue 96 of the Lincolnshire Business weekly magazine, now available to read at www.lincsbusiness.co. Subscribe to the email newsletter to receive the latest edition in your inbox this Friday.
Having gone from financial futures broker to farmer Alex saw a change in the world as it was just starting to shift its focus to local produce and it wasn’t long before he became passionate about being local, and not just for Lincolnshire.
Whilst on a trip to Wales, Alex met David Lee Wilson who made Anglesey Sea Salt. “It suddenly occurred to me that there was an opportunity surrounding the possibility of taking potatoes from Lincolnshire, turning them into crisps and putting Anglesey Sea Salt on them.
“We have the opportunity of being local in Anglesey (Wales) and working on the localism of Lincolnshire potatoes.”
Pipers Crips was the first to launch a brand which talked about the provenance and where food came from, setting a trend that others, such as Marks and Spencer soon followed.
On April 9th, 2004, Alex delivered his first 20 boxes of crisps to four pubs and Abbey Park Farms in East Heckington.
From there the company has continually grown and now the company makes more than 26 million packets of locally produced crisps a year, which are distributed to over 17% of the UK as well as 11 different countries.
“What feels really good is that we employ 76 people and that we’ve pushed our reach beyond Lincolnshire.
“We export to 11 countries, admittedly on a small scale at the moment but we’re starting to find some traction there. What’s really great in terms of export is that it appears that we don’t have to put a Union Jack on it in order for people to recognise that it is British.”
Working with his partners Simon Herring and James Sweeting, who own coffee roastery Lincoln and York, Alex has built the company upon a foundation of strong relationships.
The brand is sold at a number of retailers of all different shapes and sizes, from corner shops to Lincolnshire Co-operative and Booths, as well as many different pub chains. All of which are distributed from one of its three distribution centres across the UK, at Elsham, Epping and Oxford.
Currently, 50% of deliveries being made are by the company’s own fleet of vans. There is also a fourth depot on the cards to be opened by the end of the year, which will allow the company to cover the whole of England with its own delivery vans.
Continue reading the full cover interview with Alex Albone in issue 96.
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