Clippy’s founder, ‘Clippy’ McKenna tells us how the company grew from a kitchen table operation to being a global food brand.
One of the main reasons we started the Clippy’s brand was really to disrupt sleepy food categories such as - jam, preserves and others in the future. We literally started in my kitchen, using the apples from a couple of the trees in my garden; experimenting with flavours and tastes to create a product we would be proud to put our name to.
From day one we had ambitions to be a household name, we are totally self-funded and we’ve had no practical experience of how to finance growth (we’re still self funded, with no loans or help).
In 2009, we enrolled on the NWDA funded ‘High Growth’ programme (now called the ‘Growth Accelerator’ programme). This really helped us in preparing our three year business plan and taking our brand to market. From this we knew that we needed to cultivate relationships and build trust with various financial experts and the Business Growth Hub provided support for us in two key areas:
To achieve our rapid growth ambitions we needed financial investment and we worked with the Hub’s Access to Finance team to prepare investor presentations. The team taught us how to talk in a language that investors understand, which meant they took us seriously from the word go and knew that we meant business.
The Hub introduced us to the [NW Business Angels] (http://businessgrowthhub.com/partners/north-west-business-angels) network and, the support we received helped us understand that we were asking investors to invest mainly in potential as, at that point, we were only selling to the independent market. This taught us a valuable lesson that timing is key and we were probably looking for investment too soon.
So, with a rekindled fire in our bellies, we secured listings with six high-profile customers - Fortnum & Mason, all Harvey Nichols stores in the U.K., the on-line supermarket Ocado, an 800-store Tesco deal, Asda and EH Booths.
At this stage we recognised that to support these major deals, we required assistance from the Hub again.
Firstly, we required an invoice discounting facility to manage short-term cash-flow issues. Our network of contacts from the Hub quickly provided expertise to secure a deal.
We also required an experienced advisor/mentor to assist us in making the right decisions at the right time as well as adding extra credibility to the senior management team. The NW fund, a Hub partner, kindly introduced us to a senior advisor/mentor with 30+ years of food & drink sector experience.
So where is the Clippy’s brand in 2012 and how are we working with the Business Growth Hub today?
- We’re growing rapidly and have just won a 400-store deal with Morrison’s as well as extending our listings in Tesco.
- We’ve just launched Marmachilli – a Seville orange marmalade with a kick chilli into Morrison’s as well as well moving into 2 complementary food categories.
- We have exported to the U.S.A. and will be exporting to China later this year.
To take the business to the next level we are seeking equity based investment and are now working with the Hub and their partners to make this happen.