Yorkshire Provender doubles size of factory as sales surge

Fresh soup firm Yorkshire Provender is to double the size of its factory to meet increasing demand following a 56 per cent rise in sales.

Belinda Williams: Created a range of soups using locally sourced ingredients

The plans to expand the factory in Melmerby, near Ripon, will see the group take on 30 new members of staff at a time when Yorkshire Provender is far out-stripping demand for chilled soups.

Recent Kantar data shows retail sales for Yorkshire Provender rose by 56 per cent in 2014 at a time when the chilled soup category has seen sales fall by 5.5 per cent.

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The group has seen sales rise by 85 per cent in the four years since the company moved to its factory in Melmerby.

Turnover currently stands at £4.7m and is forecast to grow to £5.3m by next May.

The £2.4m investment follows forecasts that the company will see sales grow by 80 per cent over the next three years.

The firm was originally set up by Belinda Williams and her husband Terry as a catering company, but when business was slow during the winter months, Ms Williams turned her hand to creating a range of soups in her own kitchen.

In the early years she drove down to London offering sample stock to Selfridges, Harrods and other premium food stores.

Yorkshire Provender’s customers now include Waitrose, Ocado, premium Co-op stores, Tesco, Booths and a number of independent food halls and farm shops.

The recipes are all developed by Ms Williams, who uses seasonal British flavours and locally sourced ingredients.

Her small team of 12 staff sample and taste every batch during and after production to ensure quality and consistency.

“We hand prepare our vegetables in our own North Yorkshire kitchen and our soups are cooked by a small team with a real love and desire for food,” said Ms Williams.

“Our recipes represent the best of classic British flavours and are finished off with fresh, vibrant herbs, grown locally during the summer months.”

Ms Williams is also in charge of sales and marketing in a bid to make sure the original ethos isn’t lost. The firm’s range has expanded to include sauces and meal pots and last year Ms Williams published her first book Delicious Soups.

She recently won the NatWest Everywoman Awards.