No ordinary start-ups

Marks & Spencer has announced that it is to help UK artisan food and drink start-ups bring their products to market by putting on a series of business events over the next few months in collaboration with Kitchen Table Projects.

The three events will provide the start-ups with advice and guidance on managing growth and navigating the UK’s food and drink retail landscape, with the first one, Speed Mentoring, being held on March 24, giving producers three minutes each to ask questions to mentors and experts before moving on to the next one, rather like speed dating.

The second event [on May 5] will be a food business bootcamp focused on growing the producers’ businesses and how to become ‘retail ready’. At this event, the five start-ups selected to take part will have to pitch to experts in the style of Dragons’ Den. Finally, on June 23, the event called Artisan After Hours will be an informal networking opportunity with food producers, consultants, media, retailers and distributors.

As a spokeswoman for Marks & Spencer said, the retailer is committed to supporting the next generation of UK food and drink brands. She added that partnerships like this are invaluable, not just for those looking to grow their food and drink business but also for M&S in helping them to discover the next big thing for their shelves.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Kitchen Table Products said that there are thousands of emerging artisan food producers across the UK who have little experience of the food industry. Many make their products at the kitchen table, or in shared facilities, before selling them in local delis and grocers. She added that the new tie-up will give these producers a rare opportunity to be guided by the experts from one the UK’s biggest and best known retailers.

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