Business West helps Chew Valley based organic snack company to expand its workforce

Author
Laura Ross
Marketing Executive/Editor | Business West
16th November 2021

An organic, family run business has been helped by Business West and the Workforce for the Future programme to increase its staff during challenging times.

Kinetic Kitchen was set up by a family of elite cyclists who found their performance was improved by a ketogenic diet. Founder, Harry Noel-Smith, a recent graduate from Swansea University struggled to find healthy snacks for cyclists that were gluten-free, sugar-free and high in protein. However, he missed his favourite snack, the doughnut. So, he set about creating his own healthy version called the ‘ketonut’ which he now sells online, in shops across Bristol and at events.  

“I set up the business in 2019 with a coffee truck I converted from a Land Rover Defender where I was serving coffees and ketonuts. Then the pandemic came along, and we had to close the coffee truck. I completely flipped the way I saw the business model going from a majority events business and try to be a 100% D2C online consume business. Thankfully that took off at the right time. It was one of those perfect storm time moments where everyone was ordering things online.”

The company experienced massive growth during the pandemic and expanded into a 2,000 square foot unit in Ubley in North Somerset but they had issues with trying to recruit new staff in a remote location.

How Workforce for the Future helped Kinetic Kitchen grow

Business Skills Advisor at Business West, Julia Gurr, helped Harry to think about how he could retrain key staff for future long growth in the company through offering opportunities to existing staff, linking them to relevant courses such on topics such as leadership and social media.

Together they investigated recruitment opportunities for new staff, interns, apprentices and Kickstarters. We asked Harry what measurable impact he’s seen as a result of working with WFTF: 

“Employment quite simply! A Kickstarter in Business Administration and a full-time employee as a Baking Assistant. The impact it’s had has allowed me to scale up my business and get more ketonuts out to more clients.” 

Julia has also helped them to take on new interns via a Bristol University programme. 

Today the company has 5 members of staff and they’ve just recruited another one, plus a Kickstarter in Business Administration and regularly have interns through University of Bristol.

The business also received expert advice from Thatcher’s Cider on how they recruited apprentices in a rural setting.  Whilst they didn’t manage to recruit an apprentice, Kinetic Kitchen now have more knowledge on the process and plan to try again in February next year to fit in with the academic timeline. 

They also accessed advice from experienced companies and a local college on how to build a talent pipeline local and have formed links with schools across Bristol and the surrounding areas. but have concluded that, “It makes a lot more sense to drive future young individuals in the actual area a so we’re now focusing on Chew Valley Secondary school which is just down the road from us.” Plans are also underway to set up enterprise lessons at the school teaching a year group about Kinetic Kitchen.

“The Workforce for the Future programme has given me more of an open mind of different routes I could potentially take. Coming into this programme I was a little bit nervous, had no idea of what internship was, what an apprenticeship was, what the Kickstarter scheme was and different ways I could potentially recruit. People are finding it difficult to recruit at the moment.”

Going forward, Harry is now working with Julia on forecasting for growth periods and planning for the future: “I am working on drawing up a 3-year plan of where I see the company going on a month-by-month basis on key points and working out at what stage I need to be recruiting staff.”

“The network really surprised me. My advisor has been like my mentor. It’s been quite brilliant. If she didn’t have the information, she’d obtain it. She’s introduced me to key people and as a small business you don’t get that exposure. I’m new to the area so didn’t know many people.”

Would Harry recommend the Workforce for the Future Programme? He replied: “It’s a fountain of knowledge. It does what it says on the tin. For small businesses who are experiencing rapid growth who are potentially naïve in the business world, this is the perfect programme for them because it’s going to give you the information and the resources that you need to scale.”

Businesses can call 0330 124 4446 or email skills@businesswest.co.uk to hear how we can help fill the skills gap in your workplace.

Workforce for the Future is a free support service designed to help SMEs in the West of England with their current and future skills needs. For more information, please visit the Growth Hub

 

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