County Durham Growth Fund case study: E Catering

A catering company which provides equipment to hotels, restaurants and bars is fast-tracking plans to become a £50m turnover business.

E Catering, based at Jade Business Park, has seen operations grow by 700 per cent since the current owner bought it in 2019.

Headcount has also grown from five to 24, with ambitious plans to expand the team further as it continues to implement its ambitious growth strategy.

Now, thanks to the County Durham Growth Fund, which awarded the company a £120,000 grant to purchase additional racking and forklift trucks as well as carry out electrical work on-site, the company is fast-tracking its plans and believes achieving a turnover of £50m is realistic by 2025.

Head of Finance Reece Ingham said: “When our owner Duncan Everheard purchased the business in 2019, it was being run as a bit of a hobby, although was still turning over £3m.

“Although the previous owner was happy with things, Duncan saw real potential. It was a tough start though, as not long after the purchase was complete, the Covid pandemic came along. We managed to ride through it and from there our growth, supported by organic expansion and acquisitions, has been significant.”

E Catering was initially based in Kendal before Duncan decided to relocate it to Middlesbrough, then Stokesley.

However, the business quickly outgrew its premises and in September 2021, it moved again, this time to two units, collectively more than 48,000 sq. ft, at Jade Business Park in Murton.

Reece added: “We took on more space than we needed to, allowing for our planned growth over the next five years, however with the grant support we’ve had from the County Durham Growth Fund, we are now looking at achieving our projections in the next three years.

“That includes increasing our turnover from £21m currently to £50m by 2025 and recruiting even more people from the East Durham area – currently around 90 per cent of our workforce is local which is fantastic.”

E Catering sources catering equipment, including industrial-size ovens, grills and fridges, which are supplied to hotels, bars, restaurants, and takeaways across the UK.

The County Durham Growth Fund is managed by Business Durham in partnership with UMi and is supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). All successful grant applications are appraised by UNW LLP, an independent firm of chartered accountants and business advisers.

Guy Bashford from Business Durham is one of a number of people who have supported E Catering with their move to Jade Business Park and application to the County Durham Growth Fund.

He said: “It’s wonderful to hear that, thanks to the £120,000 grant awarded to E Catering, they’re now able to fast-track their ambitious plans to become a £50m turnover company.

“The fact that 90 per cent of their workforce is local is another welcome boost for the East Durham area.”

Simon Allen, investment centre director at UMi, added: “The County Durham Growth Fund is here to support businesses like E Catering, who have relocated to our area and see it as the ideal base from which to grow, supported by the recruitment of people from their immediate surroundings.”

Lara Marshall, corporate finance manager at UNW, said: “There’s no doubt E Catering has the potential to continue their journey as a very successful business, and I’m delighted that the County Durham Growth Fund is playing a part in them realising their ambitious growth plans.”