A Telford-based business supplying cheese and dairy products to food manufacturers and the food service sector has had its best year yet, despite the triple challenge of Brexit, Covid and global supply chain disruption.
Bridge Cheese’s managing director Michael Harte said the business had successfully weathered the storm during 2021 and was looking forward to another year of growth in 2022, as its long-awaited expansion plans finally come to fruition.
Mr Harte said: “It’s been a phenomenal 12 months for Bridge Cheese and we’ve doubled our turnover in the last two years. Demand from our existing clients has increased and we are winning lots of new contracts too. To keep up with the orders, we increased our headcount by an extra 22 full time employees.”
Last summer, Bridge Cheese announced they would be expanding their Telford headquarters to add an extra production line, additional warehouse space plus new staff facilities.
“We had hoped to expand the site at the end of 2021,” said Mr Harte, “but supply chain issues held up the commissioning of the new equipment we needed for the new line. While we are waiting, we’ve added a night shift to increase production. In the current climate, you just have to roll with the punches.”
The punches certainly came thick and fast in 2021, but Michael is hopeful that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Mr Harte said: “2021 certainly had its fair share of challenges for the food industry. The year started with uncertainty around Brexit and operating under the new rules and processes for imports and exports, then the second wave of Covid and national lockdowns hit and then supply chain issues started to kick in.
“It’s been a real uphill struggle as we import and export product but we’ve been able to remain agile and this has helped ensure we continued to fulfil our customers’ orders.”
One particular success of 2021 has been on the people side of Bridge Cheese’ business. Keen to avoid the labour shortages seen in other sectors, the company has a dedicated full-time team working solely on recruitment, retention and development to ensure Bridge Cheese attracts and retains good people at all levels.
Mr Harte added: “We’ve had some fantastic appointments through apprenticeship placements and the Kickstarter scheme, as well as through local recruitment drives, and we have invested a lot in developing our culture. Our people are so important to the running of our business, we want them to feel valued.”
With plans for expansion and a new product launch in the offing, 2022 looks set to be another vintage year for Bridge Cheese.
Mr Harte concluded: “2021 was challenging and rewarding in equal measure, but we are looking forward to 2022 and a chance for more considered, planned growth and development to meet the needs of our rapidly growing customer base.”