Jennifer Irvine set-up gourmet food delivery service The Pure Package from her kitchen sink after noticing a gap in the market for freshly prepared, delicious and convenient food. Now aged 35, tells us the secrets to her business success
What is your start-up story?
My love of food started from an early age, helped by growing up on a self-sufficient farm in West Cork, Ireland where my parents still make Milleens cheese. As a young, budding entrepreneur, I used to collect eggs from the hens on our farm and sell them to local restaurants and markets.
As a child, the dinner table was the centre of our family life. It was the hub of good food and loud conversation! We always knew that our food was fresh and came from either our farm or the neighbouring farms. As I grew up, I learned to value the taste and goodness of locally produced food.
As a busy mum of three, I realise how challenging it is to balance a working life with a home life whilst still looking good! It’s hard to find tasty, convenient food that is also good for you. So, I started The Pure Package as a one woman band, in my very own kitchen; we are now proud to be the biggest players in the field.
What is your turnover, employee numbers etc compared to previous years?
I am incredibly fortunate to have a fantastic, passionate and motivated team. I currently have a team of 24 people. The Pure Package started out as just one (me!).
What products or services do you provide?
I have two healthy food companies. The original and first company of its kind – started in 2003 – is The Pure Package. The Pure Package is the Michelin starred version of diet delivery services in London. The Pure Package lets you meet your health goals whilst eating fresh, ethically sourced, gourmet meals. We deliver a daily bespoke menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner alongside two healthy snacks. The Pure Package’s little sister is Balance Box, started in January 2013. Both services do all the shopping, cooking and preparing for you, saving you time for the finer things in life. The Balance Box delivers nationwide, providing you with two different market menu plans. Balance Box is the ultimate convenience, we deliver either a 3 day or 4 day box ensuring your fridge is fully stocked.
What problem does your company solve?
Both The Pure Package and Balance Box are the ultimate convenience in healthy eating. We do all the shopping, cooking and preparing for you; ensuring you have time for the finer things in life. What’s more, we use only the freshest produce, and all our food is ethically sourced.
What is your USP?
We are fortunate enough to be based in the labyrinth that is New Covent Garden Market, ensuring that the freshest produce is right at our fingertips. The Pure Package has the largest range of bespoke programmers than any other healthy food delivery company. Our programmes range from: Weight Loss, Pre and Post Natal and Detox to Skin and Training Support. We really are the luxury version of the basic diet delivery service, with all our meals tailored to meet the individual client’s needs.
Any thoughts on the future of your company?
The Pure Package celebrates its tenth birthday this year, and I couldn’t be more proud. I am so pleased that we are the bench mark for other companies. I am also thrilled to get my teeth stuck into the Balance Box. Both companies are suited to completely different people, and it is so nice to be able to enjoy both sides.
What have you done to make sure you get the right people with the right skills in place?
After holding interviews for positions, I always get people to come in for a trial day too. It’s a great way to see how people work within a team, and a good way of seeing if the skills that are outlined on their CV can actually shine through once the job is underway. Although all the members of my team have very different personalities, they compliment one another tremendously. From cooking the meals, to plating up the food, to customer services and marketing, each side works closely with one another. That close relationship ensures each team member has respect for the work their colleagues are doing.
Do you have any tips for managing suppliers and customers effectively?
In order to manage our suppliers, I have to understand the cost and value of the entire supply chain. I regularly take walks down to New Covent Garden market, which is where we get our fruit and vegetable fresh product from, so I can understand the link from raw materials through to the end product.
Although we have a large database of clients, I provide each of my clients with a personalised service. Once signed up, our clients receive 1-2-1 personal telephone support from our nutritional therapists.
Any finance and cash-flow tips?
The key is to always write a business plan! This will let you know if you are where you should be, and helps to keep me really organised. Remember, economies of scale are never as big as you think they’re going to be. As a high end, artesian company, The Pure Package uses really good ingredients. The reality is when you are producing this kind of food; you need to account for those costs.
Any advice for the Government?
The government needs to simplify the tax system! Legislation also needs to be simplified. People get very confused reading over the small print and trying to read between the lines. It definitely puts people off!
What is your attitude towards your competitors?
All businesses exist in a competitive environment and I believe it is always healthy to have a bit of competition. Competition ensures I give the best personal attention to the needs to my clients.