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Entrepreneurs Panel

Debbie Pierce
Charlie Mullins
Richard O'Sullivan
David Pollock
Jeremy Roberts
Laura Tenison
Julie Meyer
Brian Hay
Michael Oliver
Steve Purdham
Jennie Johnson
Tony Caldeira

Buy or Lease?

Debbie Pierce

The former market stall worker founded the Bury Black Pudding Company on the web in May 2002 on a budget of £1,000. The firm completed its move to a major production facility in 2005 and now churns out more than 20 tonnes of black pudding a week to cater for demand over the internet, at its longstanding stall in Bury Market and from its distributors including Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Co-op, Iceland and Londis.

Question: 

My food processing business is in the fortunate position of expanding at the moment – in the current market would you recommend buying a new manufacturing unit to accommodate our growth or leasing extra space?

Answer: 

I would only lease extra space if it’s attached to the premises you’re in now. if you’re considering leasing in a separate location, don’t do it. Working between two sites becomes a nightmare. it wastes valuable time and money and it’s difficult to keep an eye on how staff are operating 100 per cent of the time.

If there’s room to expand where you are then you need to ask yourself lots of questions before choosing between that and fitting out somewhere new. Fitting out somewhere new for food purposes is a massive leap and involves lots of expense. If you’re confident your business will continue to grow, you need to look for somewhere which will accommodate more growth, not just what you need now.

What overheads could your business cope with while still being able to do well and grow? if you’re not sure about that at the moment then lease space where you are. Most food businesses are currently doing okay because, luckily, people have to eat. I find it hard to believe when I hear companies saying they’re now tightening their belts and trying to become more lean – they should be doing that anyway at all
times!

I made the leap into new premises three years ago. The overheads strangled us for the first two years but we’ve managed to build volume now and are bursting at the seams. We didn’t buy the premises, only leased it, but there is an option to buy if and when we can afford it. We made sure it was on a long lease and in a block of three units so we have the option to expand into those if and when required.

You should also look at the grants available to help you with your move/growth. And remember, grants come and go. if there’s nothing available now leave it a few months and ask again.

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