A Leek businessman has taken a major step to expand his business – 20 years after his late father started the company.
Oatcake production at Povey's Oatcakes is set to soar and new jobs will follow after the opening of a new manufacturing and distribution centre in the Staffordshire Moorlands.
Award winning oatcake maker Alex Povey, owner of Povey's Oatcakes, who lives in Leek, has decided it is time to expand his business and push the local delicacy to a greater audience way beyond North Staffordshire.
Since the untimely death of his father Steve in 2011, Alex, aged 25, has headed up the family business.
Alex, whose business has won the 6 Towns Radio – Best Oatcake Shop in Stoke-on-Tent for two years running, said: "Oatcakes are a staple food in this part of the world and I can't see any reason why they shouldn't catch on across the globe.
"Everyone from outside the area who tries them wants to take some back and is disappointed that they are not available at home. After I lost my dad I made a conscious decision to build on his hard work by expanding production." Alex is set to open the new oatcake manufacturing unit and distribution centre at Victoria Park, Biddulph, today, Wednesday, May 14.
The investment has taken place thanks to a mix of funding from a bank loan, his own savings and the Regional Growth Fund via Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce.
The key component of Alex's expansion is a new automated oatcake making machine sourced from France.
Alex explained: "I found a suitable machine to produce oatcakes in France because they make machines to produce similar food such as crepes.
"This is a big step for Povey's Oatcakes and an exciting one.
"The new machine should quadruple oatcake production overnight. We currently make around 120,000 oatcakes a week, but with this machine we will be able to make around 450,000 a week.
"I'm already supplying one major supermarket chain locally and the added capacity helps me to target the other big players in food retailing.
"I'm currently employing 11 but have a target to take on five new staff as demand increases.
"I am also hoping that with this expansion there will, in time, come a fleet of Povey's Oatcake shops including in my home town of Leek."
Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce also put Alex in touch with business mentor Franz Opitz, of Leek, through the Chamber's 'Let's do Mentoring' scheme.
Mr Opitz said: "I was immediately taken with his enthusiasm and sense of an opportunity. I worked with Alex on formulating his plans to make the best possible impression with the banks and funders.
"Small businesses need to grow, but in a sustainable way, and we were able to get the tone right to secure vital funding from NatWest Bank."
Alex said: "I lost my main mentor when my father died. however, Franz has been great in giving me guidance and assisting me with the figures and business plan."
He added: "I'm sure my dad would be proud as he had been thinking of expanding the business himself before he died.
"I do feel my dad is very much here watching and still guiding the business – I'm just a worker."
Today's opening will include invited guests and a number of customers who will have found a 'Golden Ticket' to the event in packs of Povey's Oatcakes.