Stories of stressed-out city couples relocating to the countryside are now a familiar tale, but one county pair have taken their new life in the country a step further and gained national recognition in an industry that was, until seven years ago, entirely new territory.
Matt and Anne Scott left their jobs at Royal Mail in Portsmouth when they spotted a working mill for sale in the sleepy town of Churchstoke, just across the Shropshire border in Powys.
“We both wanted a career change and were keen to get into the tourism business, plus we’d spotted a gap in the market for organic flour, so Bacheldre Watermill was perfect.” says Matt.
Having learnt to stone-mill from scratch, Matt wisely set his sights on the conquering the trend-setting London market and before long, Bacheldre was supplying organic flour to the cutting-edge food halls of luxury department stores like Harrods and Fortnum & Mason.
As other retailers followed suit, Bacheldre began supplying shops and supermarkets across England and Ireland, including local stores like Harry Tuffins.
“We didn’t just want to be a local mill for local people,” says Matt. “Our ethos is about sourcing the best grain we can find, some of which comes from as far afield as Kazakhstan.”
It’s an ethos that’s paid off – they have won Best Organic Product in the True Taste awards for two years running, as well as numerous awards from the Soil Association.
The couple have now set their sites on the bigger supermarket brands and are currently supplying flour to 200 Waitrose stores across the country.
“Although there’s a recession, Waitrose say there’s been a 12 per cent increase in sales of their artisan flours, including ours, and it’s the same with our other distributors. We’re flat out!”
But Matt and Anne are well prepared for their new phase of expansion and have taken on three full-time staff as well as refitting the mill to blend its characterful architecture with state-of-the-art technology and an automated packing line.
It’s a good job, because Bacheldre is about to get even busier.
After spotting a gap in the market for home baking kits which use quality organic ingredients, the Scott’s decided to launch their own line and have been working with Aardman, makers of the iconic Wallace and Gromit animations, to produce organic baking kits under the Wallace and Gromit brand.
Their collaboration included the hugely successful Wallace and Gromit film, ‘A Matter of Loaf and Death’, which aired last Christmas Day to record viewing figures.
“The baking kits are available in Harry Tuffins and they’re going national with Waitrose in October, and hopefully with Sainsburys in November, so we’re really excited.”
One of the reasons Matt and Anne have been so successful is that they’re constantly looking for different angles to promote their product s.
“We believe a company has to continually reinvent itself to make sure its products don’t become stale, so we’re always checking what other millers are doing to stay ahead of the game.”
“It’s hard work, but we enjoy what we do because we can see there’s a lot of potential.”
Original Story Here – The Shropshire Star | Twitter Talk – August 2009