Food Attraction Limited

Funding to enable the purchase of premises leading to increased production capacity, attitudinal change and rapid growth

Based in Leicester, Food Attraction Limited is a family-owned food manufacturing business.  Established in 2013, it initially focused on creating high quality frozen and chilled food products from raw materials, predominantly supplying these to restaurant chains and major retailers.

In 2018 the business started to develop its own unique hand-held products under the newly established Jake and Nayns’ brand. Its first product was the Naanster, a microwavable naan that the company had developed filled with pilau rice, mango chutney and a meat or vegetable curry. Following its launch, the Naanster proved very popular and successfully secured orders with large outlets including Sainsbury’s, Co-op, Nisa and Spar.

Why engage with Invest to Grow?

Recognising the significant potential for growth from the Naanster and other branded products it was developing, Food Attraction identified a long-term growth strategy. However, the business’ existing tenure arrangements represented a potential constraint to growth, with it renting two of three adjacent units and a courtyard. To facilitate growth, Food Attraction not only required access to all three units but also greater security of tenure given the potential for disruption if the units were sold. Having already invested significantly in one of the units to ensure it met the highest (BRC) British Retail Consortium hygiene standard at the AA grade, the business was keen to own the premises before investing further.

Food Attraction approached the University of Derby and successfully obtained £200k funding from Invest to Grow, the majority of which was as a loan. This contributed towards the business purchasing the three units as well as the adjacent courtyard and car park. The funding also facilitated an increase in the capacity of the premises’ substation, enabling additional automation.

Food Attraction industrial unit view from above

What has been the impact of Invest to Grow?

Following the purchase in August 2019, Food Attraction made substantial changes to its premises. This included amalgamating two of the three units and utilising the third unit as a much-needed dry store warehouse. These changes immediately provided Food Attraction with greater production and storage capacity to accelerate its growth plans. However, of greater significance was the attitudinal change and organisational culture it created. Managing Director, Jake Karia commented:

“As we were in rented premises we’d always been slightly cautious about our expansion plans. For example, there was a cautiousness about spending money on premises we didn’t own and which we might not occupy in the future. Once we owned the premises there was a whole attitudinal change and we started to make immediate changes, bringing forward expansion plans. I would say that it accelerated our growth plans by 30-35% immediately.”

The business continued to implement its expansion plans until restrictions associated with Covid-19 impacted the UK in early 2020.  This had a major effect on Food Attraction’s market, with demand significantly reduced from restaurants and other key customers such as airlines and rail companies. However, the business quickly pivoted its offer, expanding and changing its marketing message to promote its hand-held branded snacks as food for the home, including as main meal options. Jake Karia commented how the recent attitudinal change enabled by the Invest to Grow project had been critical to this:

“I would argue that, because of our recent attitudinal change, there was no thought of us throwing in the towel when Covid hit. Instead, we realised we owned the buildings and the site, and we wanted to continue expanding. Even though we lost a large amount of our business, we managed to react to this and recovered the loss and grew by 14% during 2020.”

Whilst the pandemic therefore meant Food Attraction was unable to implement its expansion plans to the extent originally anticipated, it successfully maintained growth for a two-year period. Since then it has expanded rapidly, with the business launching new unique burrito and samosa products and further developing its customer base which will shortly include Tesco, Asda and Boots. Food Attraction’s annually commissioned survey identified its increasing foothold in the market, with Jake and Nayns’ national brand awareness reaching 27% in its most recent survey. The business’ growth has also included the creation of additional jobs, as referenced by Jake Karia:

“We have created around 40 new jobs since we received funding from Invest to Grow, and at the same time our turnover has quadrupled. We have only been able to achieve this growth because we have had the security of owning our premises.”

Whilst its turnover has increased, Food Attraction has also faced significant rises associated with energy, wage and other inflation costs. Having its own premises helped the business offset this by increasing its efficiency and productivity levels, as a result of both better space utilisation and additional investment. In addition to helping mitigate against fluctuating demand during Covid-19, access to its own large dry storage warehouse also helped to minimise the impact of Brexit on Food Attraction by enabling it to buy better and in bulk. This meant the business was not affected by supply shortages and gained a reputation for efficiently supplying customers even during the most difficult periods.

Despite the current challenging economic landscape, Food Attraction has significant confidence to expand further and, as part of this, is in discussions with the University of Derby about accessing additional support to enable this.