Heart Distribution, the AF Blakemore operation set up to aid small, local producers with getting their products to market, has launched a new initiative to help small producers grow their businesses.
The Heart Distribution Producer Growth Scheme, which was launched in early September 2013, provides producers with loans to help them advance in the marketplace.
The scheme is open to all Heart producers who have been working with the company for more than 12 months, and to producers outside of this on a special case basis.
Heart Distribution commercial manager, Caoire Blakemore, said: “Heart has been going now for nearly five years, and we’ve seen some great product come into the marketplace. We’ve also seen some of our producers struggle to grow – they may have a great product that is commercially viable but need just a little help to get it going.
“The scheme is aimed at helping the British food and drink producers in Heart take that next step in a climate where it is difficult for them to obtain bank loans. Even when loans are granted, they usually do not come with reasonable interest rates.”
Each quarter, five producers will be awarded a loan of up to £5,000, to be paid back through one of two repayment schemes depending upon the producer’s preference. One of these schemes is an entirely interest free repayment scheme.
Heart Distribution is a support network for over 150 British food and drink producers, aiding the delivery of product to retail customers by increasing efficiencies in the distribution process. Heart consolidates and delivers customer orders on behalf of numerous producers to eliminate the need for each producer to make direct deliveries. Customers also benefit by gaining easy access to Great British product via a simple “One Order, One Invoice, One Delivery” process under one minimum order.
The new Producer Growth Scheme complements much of the work that Heart Distribution already carries out with producers to help them develop their businesses. Heart supports producers with business planning, product development and various marketing and business development schemes that range from free product photography to free product panels.
Blakemore said: “We hope that the scheme will be mutually beneficial for both Heart and its producers. By providing funding that enables producers to expand their product ranges, Heart in turn should be able to strengthen the range of products it offers to retailers.”