Ben Smallridge is the fifth generation to be involved with his family’s beef farm near Ivybridge in South Devon. Seven years ago, he saw an opportunity to butcher and sell some of their own beef and since then has developed a steady business delivering to customers in the local area.
When Covid-19 hit, Ben was contacted by a number of his regular customers who wanted him to supply more of the goods that they were unable to buy in their supermarkets. It was in researching this opportunity that Ben really began to understand just how many amazing local products were available from small businesses right on his doorstep.
From here, Ludbrook Foods was formed, with the hamper business being launched in November 2020. The family already used Haines Watts and so Ben was quick to pick our brains on how to structure the new hamper business and to maximise this opportunity that had been created from the pandemic lockdowns.
Passionate about food and drink
In order to provide luxury hampers, Ben focuses on flavour, provenance and ethics. If a product doesn’t match all three aspects, it won’t be included in their hampers. He supports local producers as much as possible, with products sourced from Devon and Cornwall and the Westcountry.
What challenges has the business faced?
The initial launch of the business was hindered by lockdowns and social distancing restrictions. So Ben used Facebook and created a website to get the message out there. Word of mouth with his existing butchery customers also worked well, together with offering hamper prizes to local charity raffles to help raise the profile.
Now the biggest challenge facing the business is extending the seasonality of hamper sales so that he can secure a market for the hampers all year round.
What does the future hold?
With the great feedback and rate of repeat business he has already experienced with the hampers, Ben is very positive about the future. The business is going to be rebranded as ‘Ludbrook Hampers’ and he is exploring ways to access the corporate hamper market as initial research has shown that more and more companies are eager to reward their employees with quality, local produce, especially after all their hard work during the pandemic. He is also currently in discussions with both estate and holiday letting agents with a view to providing luxury hampers as welcome gifts to new home owners and holiday makers.
Due to the Covid-19 restrictions in 2020, we offered all our staff a Ludbrook hamper in lieu of a Christmas party, which went down very well with the team!
Ben said “Fiona Davey and the team at Haines Watts have been so helpful in giving me business and tax planning advice. They are very approachable and easy to deal with, so much so that I feel that Fiona is an extension of my business. In the years ahead, Haines Watts will be an integral part of helping me to expand the business.”