A company supplying fresh produce to the hospitality industry has received a £150,000 expansion loan from Thames Valley Berkshire (TVB) Funding Escalator. The money will be used to fund capital expenditure, site improvements and additional staff, allowing the business to increase capacity and meet growing demand.
Set up in July 2020, Maidenhead based Crop to Kitchen sources and grows premium fresh produce for high-end hospitality, including several Michelin star restaurants. Its specialist products include less common ingredients such as micro cress, sea beet and edible flowers, and they work closely with head chefs to deliver the ingredients desired for their restaurant tables.
Following a recent move to a new site with its own farmland, the business is already growing its own produce which will account for a significant portion of future sales, with the remainder to be sourced directly from the grower wherever possible. This will help keep food miles to a minimum, contributing to the company’s sustainability goals along with other initiatives such as a large on-site composting facility enabling a zero food waste environment, utilising an in-situ borehole for crop irrigation, and installing a wind turbine to power the site’s electrical needs. Crop to Kitchen is also training two horses to plough the field.
Peter Codling, Crop to Kitchen Founder and Director, said: “Launching a business at the height of covid-19 brought its challenges but we were able to lay all the groundwork necessary for a full-speed launch when the hospitality industry was ready. Without this TVB loan, we would be unable to follow up on the huge amount of interest we are now seeing for our niche offering. After only a year of trading, we did not have the track record required by many lenders, but The FSE Group was prepared to look at the potential of our business. We are delighted to have successfully secured the funding needed to boost the growth of our business.”
With the help of Richard Steele at BizBritain, Peter was able to prepare the robust financial forecasts needed to demonstrate that potential. Richard added: “Having supported Peter with identifying and securing the initial start-up funding back in 2020, BizBritain has continued to work closely with him throughout the last 12 months via ongoing, open communication to get the business investment ready. We look forward to working with FSE in relation to the growth of Crop to Kitchen, and on other opportunities where FSE’s funding can support our clients’ next stages of growth.”
Philip Greenwood, Investment Manager at The FSE Group, which manages the TVB Expansion Loan Scheme, commented: “Over Peter’s 20+ years of experience in the fresh produce industry, he has built an impressive reputation and extensive network of connections to both potential clients and high-quality suppliers. In the short life of the business so far, the Crop to Kitchen team has shown an ability to adapt to changing and challenging circumstances and continue to move forward, even when hospitality was closed by the pandemic. Since the industry reopened, they have successfully onboarded new customers month on month, and we are pleased to be supporting this impressive team to take on the growth opportunity now open to them.”
TVB Expansion Loan Scheme is part of TVB Funding Escalator, an £11.3m initiative funded by Thames Valley Berkshire LEP. The escalator, which also includes a Trade Finance Loan Scheme and a Growth Equity Fund, provides eligible companies with loans and equity funding between £50,000 and £300,000 for activities that will deliver high-growth and employment opportunities.