Manx producers tap into the power of the UK food and drink community


Two local food producers have recently completed the new Growth Strategy Programme developed and delivered by local business and behaviour consultant Fiona Fitz of Brand Growth Heroes Podcast.

Outlier Distilling Company and Foraging Vintners participated in this 6 week live, accompanied course established for founders of businesses, mainly in the food and drink industry and based in the UK, looking to make clear decisions about how best to scale their business beyond the local market and set themselves up for success.

In 2019, seven local producers embarked upon Fiona’s Business Accelerator Programme, an introductory, foundation stage born from a collaboration with the Food Matters team within the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA).

Explaining the motivation and thinking behind the new programme, Fiona said, “Most serious entrepreneurs struggle with all of the choices facing them, and how to invest their time and money in the right way to drive real growth.

“The 6-week programme gives participants the tools and space to make clear decisions about which consumers, customers, channels, and geographies they are going to focus on; which need-states and occasions, benefits and product value propositions will deliver those benefits, better than competitors.
“Once these decisions are made, writing and delivering an effective marketing plan becomes far easier as founders can focus their time, efforts and team around the choices they've made.”

Fiona has more than 20 years’ experience working with and for companies such as Nestle, Gu, Strong Roots, Chobani, Warburtons, Rustlers, Bord Bia the Irish Food Board, Enterprise Ireland, Brand Learning/Accenture, in brand management, business leadership and as a mentor and coach. She also lectures in Food Business Strategy at Masters level at UCD Smurfit Graduate School, Ireland's leading business school.

Commenting on their attendance, Rick Dacey, Co-Founder of Outlier Distilling Company, said, “The course is great for start-ups as it forces you to focus on what matters right now, while also introducing you to key upcoming opportunities and challenges.”

Ian Swindells, Co-Founder of Foraging Vintners, said, “With the events of the past year it’s clear that we need to optimise more revenue streams and needed the guided and experienced insight to realise a growth strategy moving forward.

“Fiona’s experience and passion for start-up brands not only challenged our mindset and our approach to our current strategy but exposed us to other brands and companies who are on a similar journey; by being challenged by our peers and being asked the right questions we are now finding a path to evolve to the next level. The fantastic format and interactive intensity of the course forced us to invest time into our strategy and to challenge it, which can often get put to the side when running operations of a small brand.”

Fiona said, “The Growth Strategy Programme is in its second cycle and so far, each of the 20 founders who have participated have expressed real excitement at the difference it’s making to their business".

“I’m delighted to be able to welcome two Manx companies into the mix on each cohort, introducing them to the UK and Irish food and drink start-up community, where they are able to build a valuable network of like-minded founders at similar stages of growth. There have also been a few early stage discussions with relevant government bodies about running a Manx-only cohort, watch this space!”

The next programme runs from 1st June for 6 weeks and already has one Manx food producer registered alongside a number of businesses from the UK. If you are interested in finding out more about the programme, visit Fiona's website. Financial support may be available from DEFA to eligible businesses, contact to enquire.

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