Mandy Evans launched her award-winning family business Gluten Free Gourmet seven years ago. Being a celiac herself, Mandy found it really difficult to find good quality gluten-free food. With her passion for cooking, Mandy started experimenting, producing good quality food in her own kitchen. Having already identified a gap in the market, this hobby and passion soon turned into a business idea.
Gluten Free Gourmet offer 100% gluten-free (GF) and wheat-free products, made in their very own gluten-free kitchen. Gluten-Free Gourmet cater for all occasions, offering a delicious range of sweet and savoury products.
In the early days of launching the business all products were made from Mandy’s gluten free kitchen at home and sold at the Wells Food Markets. To grow the business, Mandy then went on to attend many shows and events both locally and nationally to sell their products, market their goods and build their reputation.
This proved a very successful business strategy. Along the way, Gluten Free Gourmet has won multiple awards, including a national free-from-food award. Soon Gluten Free Gourmet became a well-known and trusted name and the demand for their delicious range of gluten-free products took off. To accommodate the growing demand and to increase baking capacity the business took on a lease and opened shop premises in Glastonbury. Again this proved to be a good business move, which further helped to build the business’s reputation. Queues out of the door were a regular scene at the shop and the business grew having both the shop and events as retail outlets.
However, in March last year, everything was turned on its head when Covid hit. Faced with a forced closure of the shop and with other health issues to consider the very difficult decision was taken to close the shop premises. This combined with the fact that there weren’t any events in the foreseeable future to attend to sell products, the business faced a massive challenge.
The Solution / Benefits
Mandy’s son was made redundant shortly after the shop closure and decided to join the family bakery. Fresh ideas were injected into the business and a new strategy was set, designed to survive the challenges thrown up by the pandemic. Gluten-Free Gourmet launched both an online retail service and a wholesale side of the business, supplying cafes and restaurants.
Somerset Enterprise Centres via Enterprise South West threw a lifeline to our business during what has been such a difficult trading environment, by providing a flexible workspace from which we could adapt, diversify, survive, invest and have the space to grow the business at our own pace – explains Mandy.
With limited shows and events taking place again in 2021, the business needed to establish an online retail offering and launch a local delivery service to survive. Being based at the Wells Enterprise Centre has made the logistics of this all possible. A good internet speed is ensured at the units, pivotal in launching the online service. Located on the edge of Wells City with plenty of free parking spaces has made it much easier to organise a delivery service and work with couriers.
Whilst trading in such uncertain economic times it has been reassuring to find a workspace that not only suits our current business needs but is offered by a reputable landlord. As part of the Somerset Enterprise Centre Network, we benefit from standard market rents and a flexible tenancy. These factors gave us the confidence to drive our business forward under such challenging trading conditions – explains Mandy.
Mandy cites other benefits for basing her business at the Wells Enterprise Centre, including:
- Fantastic security measures onsite
- Free Parking
- Networking opportunities with other small businesses at the centre and feeling part of a small business community.
- The option to have 1-2-1 advice from a Business Advisor. This is a service that Gluten Free Gourmet has not yet accessed, however, was another benefit to moving into the workspace, knowing that advice and guidance are available if needed in the future.
- Availability of a meeting room space, which Mandy is very much looking forward to using once face-to-face meetings can resume again!