Blue Strawberry Elephant Towers is shared with an eclectic mix of owner managed micro businesses.

Apart from the obligatory financial services, there’s a 3d Printer, Expo stand builder, Mobile Bar for weddings and events service, an IT company and a Gym, amongst others..

One such other is Just Preserves – manufacturer of artisan jams, marmalades, chutneys and mustards – whose owner/ manager / chief onion peeler, is Matt Hulley.

Matt’s connection to the food industry started at 17 as a beardless waiter in The Belfry’s French Restaurant.

A degree in Food Marketing Management, with a “sandwich” year working in Product Development for St Ivel followed – but – as often happens after graduating – he strayed off his foodie journey to work for a packaging company, eventually being promoted to Manager of the Customer Service and Export team.

An epiphany moment saw our hero leaving the corporate rat race to set up his own small café business. Then, as with many stories of the Great British self-employed, Matt fell headlong into Jam.

At the very moment he decided to sell his Café to embark on a new challenge, the original owners of Just Preserves were looking to retire – such is the synergy of the universe.

As markets go, Preserves and Spreads have healthy growth and great, if under publicised, potential.

After a boom in UK sales value of 5% through 2012, it has achieved steady growth of 1.33%* per year in retail sales and is expected to follow the 3.4% growth rate predicted for the US market from 2018 – 2023: Reaching an expected $3.7 Billion across Europe by the end of the same period.

This links in nicely for the prospects of Just Preserves – if Matt had one wish for his business, it would be to see more independent retailers and fewer massive supermarkets – but our research hints that this shouldn’t be something to worry about.

When Matt bought the business he inherited hundreds of recipes – these had to be streamlined, purged of the unpopular and then added to by more marketable and tasty spreads.

His Summer classics now include Blueberry & Apple Extra Jam and Orange & Lemon Marmalade, as well as Bucks Fizz Marmalade and Christmas Chutney which sell out every festive season – but alongside staples such as Piccalilli and ever popular Strawberry Jam there is Caramelised Onion with Chillies, Chilli Jam, Sweet Pepper Chutney and Bradfield Farmers Ale Chutney… and THIS is where small artisan manufacturers of small batch preserves win.

Although the market is growing for spreads and chutneys overall, sales of supermarket famous brands have been stagnant for 4 years – the public demand is for “something different” with less refined sugars and a higher percentage of savoury offerings.

When retail sales value hit 5%, volume only went up by 2% – which meant customers were prepared to buy less, but pay more, for the right alternatives.

In partnership with his loyal band of independent retailers, the future is looking good for Just Preserves.

Matt’s research, to development, to manufacture and market testing, can be done in a small percentage of the time it takes a global brand to go through the same process. The public can taste the difference more quickly, give feed back through the retailers, who are also owner managed, and keep Matt bang on trend.

Just Preserves also looks good on the website designed by the neighbours at Blue Strawberry Elephant.

In Business terms, small is beautiful – or is it just the beard?

*Whole of EU figures UK not available but expected to be higher.
© 2017 Blue Strawberry Elephant Ltd