Made In Britain: Bettaveg

What does your company do? What products services does it provide?
We supply a vast array of fresh and prepared fruit and vegetables, dairy goods, breads and dried goods to hotels, restaurants, contract caterers, schools and colleges.

Where did the idea for your business come from?
I come from a family of wholesale and retail fruiterers, so it was really a natural progression; going from supplying the public, to a more focused, specialised service for the food industry.

When did you start up, and what support were you given?
I started up in May 2002. A good business plan helped to secure funding, and the support and encouragement I received from my husband and, eventually, from key employees, was invaluable.

What has been your biggest achievement so far?
I think our biggest achievement so far is that we are now seen as a force to be reckoned with; we have a great reputation, through slog and hard work and learning from our mistakes.

What has been the biggest challenge so far?
I once employed a person who I thought I could trust, which turned out to be a mistake. I’ve since learned to keep a close eye on all operations within the business and to have staff around me that I know are trustworthy, and have proven to share the passion I have. Hiring good staff is an ongoing learning curve, which we seem to be getting better and better at.

As we’ve grown as a business, some existing staff have questioned changing workloads, but with a bit of give and take on each side we have gained good results.

How would you say you differentiate yourself from the competition?
Attention to detail is what makes us stand out. We are not as big as our competitors, but we like to think we go that little bit further for our customers, and our communication with them is of the utmost importance.

For example, one of our key customers, Manchester United Football Club, set up a supply chain partnership to help their suppliers cut costs and reduce waste. Working with DEFRA, we implemented a number of resource efficiency practices. This has helped to build even stronger relationships with Manchester United and other customers. We’ve identified potential savings of £5,000 a year as a result of the improved working relationship, and have taken on five more people to meet the additional demand and safeguarded 17 existing jobs.

What has been the best decision you have made to-date?
There are many! From smaller factors, like deciding whether or not to employ a particular person, to bigger things, such as moving to larger premises to help with the expansion of the business. Getting our British Retail Consortium accreditation was tough, but it demonstrates to our potential and current customers how serious we are.

Where do you see the business in 12 months’ time?
I would like to see the same level of success as we’ve had over the past 12 months. We’re focusing on winning new business, a lot of which comes by recommendation these days. With this in mind, we will continue to try, everyday, to improve the service we provide to our customers.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
First off, make sure you have a good business plan. Don’t run before you can walk; you will trip up! Keep your eye closely on your overheads, as they can run away with you if you let them. If you haven’t got a passion for what you are doing, don’t bother. Be firm but fair with staff; if you look after them, they will look after you and will eventually share your passion.

I’d encourage anyone else looking to start up a business to access support from the Business is GREAT campaign, which offers a range of information, inspiration and support for businesses to take the next step in their growth journey.

What do you find most satisfying about running a business?
I most enjoy the fact that now, after being in business for almost 12 years, we are recognised for doing what we do so well, which is very satisfying when we have made mistakes over the years. Success begets success, they say, and the knock on effect we have with new customers is fantastic.