* indicates required

Food firm flo-urishes thanks to a listening ear!

WHILE most companies would never say no to more money, a Northampton vegan home-bakery says business is booming thanks not to cash but to the free professional guidance its received from a multifaceted project supporting local food and drink producers.

Flo’s Kitchen, whose tasty treats include sweet and savoury foods, and who recently launched a brand new range of ready meals, was set up by Jess Fletcher and Ben Carter in October 2016 after they struggled to find delicious vegan products for themselves, and while they have never doubted their own baking skills, the couple felt that access to experts with business acumen would be the solution to their needs.

Step forward FEAST2 (Food Enterprise Advisory Support Team), a scheme which offers grant funding, technical support, event networking and, crucially for Jess and Ben, business mentoring from those who’ve experienced corporate success.

Having benefited last year from a grant of £2,500 from its predecessor, FEAST, which enabled them to purchase kitchen equipment and thereby quadruple their output, the couple jumped at the opportunity of commercial guidance this time and say that the support they’ve received over the last six months has been invaluable

“We know exactly what we’re doing in the kitchen, but we both felt some general help with what it takes to run a business would be really helpful and that’s proven to be just the case,” said Jess.

“Every time we met with our mentor, he not only gave us some great tips on how to resolve issues such a late payments by using firm communication or setting boundaries when needed, but we also came away from every session filled with confidence, thanks to his reassurance that were going in the right direction.

“We also knew he was at the end of a phone or email if we ever needed him and that’s a fabulous safety net to have when you have a bit of a wobble, as every young business does.”

So, would the couple recommend FEAST2 to others?

“Absolutely!” said Ben. “I think some producers think the scheme only offers money but, as we’ve demonstrated, there are a variety of aspects of which to take advantage and, of course, it’s free, so I’d urge producers to get in touch to see how they could benefit.

“Indeed, while we may not have needed funding this year, the scheme is running till 2021 and so, based on the rate at which we’re currently growing, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we were applying for another grant before too long.”

FEAST2, aimed at eligible food and drink manufacturers, was awarded to the Food & Drink Forum and is worth £3,934,176 in total. It will receive a further £1,967,089 in funding from the European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020

For more details of FEAST2, including registering your business for the free support on offer, contact Amanda Askew at The Mallows Company on 01933 664437 or email

Meanwhile for more information on Flo’s Kitchen, including details of its new range of vegan ready meals, visit www.floskitchen.co.uk or contact Jess and Ben at

Companies mentioned in this article

More news articles: