TWO leading bakery experts have joined forces in a new venture as they look to supply high quality ingredients to major food businesses across the UK.
Stuart Matthews and Simon Douglas, who between them have more than 60 years of experience working for major food suppliers, are putting their wealth of knowledge and skills into the Nottingham-based Quality Food Corporation Limited (QFC).
The firm sources a range of bulk ingredients such as seeds, nuts, dried fruits and oils – all specially chosen for their great flavours and freshness – aimed at national retailers and wholesalers, high class patisseries, family bakeries, ice cream and yoghurt makers and the ready meal and sandwich sectors as well as celebrity chefs.
The new company has also been boosted by winning the global standards certification from the British Retail Consortium (BRC), which governs food safety and quality for producers and suppliers.
“I am delighted to be working with Simon, who I have traded with for 20 years and who is highly regarded in the industry,” said Stuart, QFC’s managing director. “We have a great deal of experience between us and have developed strong connections in the industry over many years.
“We have huge ambitions for growing the business and to move into research and development, to introduce new products to the market.”
Former baker Stuart worked for a global ingredients company and as a sales and technical manager in Singapore before returning to the UK to set up a food supply business. He launched Unsoy Food Industries with two Turkish partners, who he later bought out, reaching a £14.8m turnover in its best year.
Stuart, from Ratcliffe-on-Soar, stayed on for nearly six years when the company was sold to Worksop-based Kiril Mischeff, one of the UK’s leading suppliers to food and drink manufacturers and retailers, before deciding to try something new.
“I really wasn’t sure whether I wanted to go back into the food industry but I knew that I needed a project,” said Stuart. “Then this opportunity came up and it just sounded so fresh and exciting that I was hooked.
“The UK bakery ingredients market is growing at a fast rate, fuelled by a range of consumer trends, so it’s a great industry to be involved in, with so many opportunities.”
The company was launched less than a year ago and has now brought Simon on board as commercial director. He had worked for Kluman and Balter, a major supplier of bakery ingredients including cake mixes, for more than 30 years.
Simon, from London, worked with different generations of the family, including former managing director Danny Kluman, until the business was bought by the global distribution company Brenntag.
“I gradually decided that it was time for me to try something different and heard about Stuart’s new project,” said Simon. “It was a big decision for me to leave a company that I’d worked at for 33 years – I’d started there when I was 16 – but I’ve had so many emails and messages wishing me well with this new venture.
“It’s great to be teaming up with Stuart, who has built up such a strong reputation. We’ve both worked with lots of companies – it’s a massively relationship-driven industry and we have forged many friendships over the years.”
The pair are working alongside communications director Duncan Beiley, the founder of leading Nottingham-based app and web developer AtomicMedia, which has designed the new website and will oversee the company’s digital marketing strategy.
“This is a really exciting partnership combining the impressive expertise of two people with such an in-depth knowledge of the industry,” said Duncan, who is friends with Stuart through a shared love of tennis. “We have lots of plans for the future.”
A key move has been gaining the company’s vital BRC accreditation – achieving the top AA standard.?The process was overseen by general manager Lois Beiley, Duncan’s wife, who previously worked at the University of Nottingham as a manager of student services.
“It is a mark of us having the highest standards and is a fantastic achievement – a real game-changer for us and it’s thanks to Lois’s hard work that we achieved it in just four months,” said Duncan.
As well as supplying good quality, ready-to-use dried and glace fruit, the company works with a top olive oil supplier in Spain. It has also sold its first pallets of bespoke eggless cake mix, a growing market.
The team, based at High Pavement, wants to build up the research and development side of the business. It is currently focusing on unique products to the food industry including 100% natural semi-dried fruits with 65% moisture, using natural flavourings to enhance the fruits from the skin to the centre.
“It’s really exciting that we have now got the foundations in and can start building the business up,” added Stuart.