Featured in The Telegraph on 31st October and as part of our Backing Business Ambition tour, The Telegraph’s Rebecca Burn-Callander talks to Jon Wood, commercial director at Seabrook Crisps.
From a family fish-and-chip shop to national snacks brand, Seabrook has evolved significantly since it was founded in Bradford in 1945.
What is now its core offering also rose to fame unintentionally. When the business first started, Seabrook began handing out free potato crisps to keep hungry customers quiet while they queued for their fish supper, and these quickly evolved into its hero product.
“The crisps soon became more popular than the chips,” Mr Wood says. “Now we turn over £30m a year.”
It’s current production capacity sees the business make five million bags of crisps a week and while early-harvest potatoes come from Cornwall, Suffolk and Anglesey, the majority of its potatoes are grown within 50 miles of the factory. This provides a real boost for the Yorkshire economy.
As the business continues to grow, Seabrook is adamant one thing remains a key focus – its local identity.
Its illustrious heritage is just one of the reasons the business attracted investment from LDC in 2015, in a deal which has helped the business expand well beyond the north of England.
“Seabrook is now a national brand and we’re also all over Europe,” says Mr Wood. “We’re even exporting as far afield as Dubai and China.”
The business is uniquely positioned to be a success overseas and has recently secured a new contract to supply 470 Aldi stores in Australia. This follows export deals with Lulu Hypermarket in the UAE, Monoprix in France and Carrefour in Spain.
Mr Wood says, “A few years ago we developed a lattice-cut crisp. We are one of very few producers of such crisps in the world. Successful and sustainable exporting requires long-term commitment and our aim for the next five years is to deliver 10pc of revenue through exports. It’s a key growth area and something we will look to continually build on.”
The injection of capital and support the business has received since it partnered with LDC have enabled it to invest heavily in technology and product development. “We’ve spent £4m to £5m on new equipment, which will assure our future growth,” says Mr Wood.
“Working with LDC has been fantastic for us. Not only are we able to invest in future growth of our business, we have access to advice and strategic support when we need it.”
Seabrook is also committed to innovation and as the crisp market evolves, so does the brand’s product range. “We’ll be launching something like a crisp, but different,” he says cryptically. “And we’re also moving into the healthy snacking market.”
In line with its recent growth, the management team at Seabrook has the ambition and drive to grow the business into a £100m brand.
Mr Wood says, “We all have experience working in large multinational brands. We’re all passionate about helping Seabrook achieve its potential.”
Jon Wood, commercial director at Seabrook, will join LDC at the Telegraph Festival of Business on Tuesday 7th November.