An award winning Mid Wales honey company is enjoying the sweet taste of business success after expanding to a new production base, which was officially opened by a Welsh Government minister.
Hilltop Honey has outgrown its previous 2,500 sq ft home in the nearby village of Caersws and now occupies a 14,000 sq ft unit in Newtown where the company expects to expand its workforce from 12 to 20 by the end of this year.
The company’s new headquarters was officially opened by Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths.
The £750,000 expansion project has been supported by the Welsh Government, Natwest Bank and Finance Wales.
The expansion follows the massive growth of the company since managing director Scott Davies launched the business six years ago.
Hilltop Honey now includes Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Co-op, Holland & Barrett and online retailer Ocado amongst its UK customers and is also expanding into export markets worldwide.
Cabinet Secretary Lesley Griffiths said: “The Welsh Government is committed to supporting food companies of all sizes across Wales as we strive to grow the industry over the next few years.
“We were happy to support Hilltop Honey with nearly a quarter of a million pounds as it is an excellent example of a successful, growing food company, playing its part in enhancing Wales’ burgeoning reputation for producing high quality food and drink.”
Scott said: “We are thrilled that our contracts with the major supermarkets are growing, but we needed to expand to fulfil our orders and to keep pace with the growth projected in our business plan.
“We are an ambitious company with exciting plans for the next five years and our new premises mean that we can increase production and hire more staff.
“We are looking to diversify our brand and strengthen our place in the UK honey market, so watch this space!”
Finance Wales portfolio executive Raymond Walters said: “We’ve been working with Scott and Hilltop Honey since 2014 and we’re really excited to see the company go from strength-to-strength.
“This latest expansion shows the demand for this quality product and we’re delighted to be able to support them with follow-on funding for their latest endeavour.”
The new investment has allowed Scott to customise the business unit and buy new food hygiene equipment and an automatic jar filling line.
A home-grown success story, beekeeper Scott, 29, started the business in his parents’ kitchen with a £5,000 overdraft from the Natwest Bank in 2011.
Six years later, he is supplying Welsh, British and European honey, comb honey and bee pollen to major High Street, online and international customers.
“Five years ago, I walked into Newtown to sell my first four jars of honey on a sale or return basis in the vegetable shop,” added Scott. “Now I’m supplying thousands of jars to customers across the UK and even as far away as New York and the Far East, which is incredible.
“I started the business because I was out of work after seriously injuring my back and needed a change of career. I was looking to start my own company and was torn between dog walking, selling stuff on eBay or the honey business.
“I investigated the honey market and thought it could do with a different approach. I have established Hilltop Honey is a premium brand of honey from around the world and we pride ourselves on the quality. We actively market our honey and show that there is more to it than just a £2 squeezy bottle of honey from China that is regularly seen on the shelves.
“We work with beekeepers all around the world to bring the consumer quality tasting honey for a reasonable price.
“Once customers try our honey, they realise they have been eating the wrong stuff for a long time and that there is in fact so much more to the flavour.
“We are never afraid to cost more as we value honey and how much work the bees do to make it.”
Hilltop Honey already exports honey products to China, Hong Kong, United States of America, Pakistan, South Africa, Japan, the Middle East and across Europe.
However, its main customers are based in the UK.
The company, which expects to double turnover again this year, is no stranger to success, having won a coveted Golden Fork Award for its Thyme Honey, judged the best ambient food product at last year’s Great Taste Awards, the Oscars of the food world.
See full story in the County Times