Say Hello To: Edgcumbes -
One family, 40 years, 13 countries and countless ‘proper cuppas’ in a mission to deliver the best tea and coffee in Sussex.
Here at Coast to Capital, we’re experts at helping ambitious and innovative businesses achieve growth. As well as offering fully funded support for businesses, we support investment enquiries and can make connections to experts, investors, and funders.
Our region is full of dynamic, thriving businesses and getting to know the people behind them is one of our favourite things to do. This month, we caught up with Alice Rendle, Director at Edgcumbes as she and the team celebrate the company’s 40th anniversary.
Before we dive in, grab a cuppa and we’ll tell you a little bit about Edgcumbes. From humble beginnings, it all started with Frank Edgcumbe-Rendle, who after a 20-year tenure in the Indian and African tea trades, returned to England disappointed by the tea he was seeing on supermarket shelves. Fast forward 40 years and Edgcumbes supplies hand-roasted speciality, premium grade coffee and blend loose leaf tea, direct-to-consumer via their website, wholesale, and at their on-site farm shop and café.
So Alice, looking at the company’s incredible growth over the last 40 years, what challenges have you faced that necessitated a change?
''In the early stages of the national lockdown our online business quickly quadrupled, and we knew we had to scale up our production facilities if we were to meet demand. We were successful in obtaining grant funding to purchase our larger 30kg coffee roaster “Wolfie”, and thanks to our e-commerce site we were able to focus our efforts on our direct-to-consumer trade. Over the last 40 years the way we do business has certainly adapted to meet our customers’ needs. At the Edge Store, we now offer tea & coffee re-filling services so customers can bring their own canisters, boxes and containers in return for discounts. This has been hugely popular as a result of customers wanting to make sustainable choices and we hope this is just the start in changing consumer behaviour.''
As a family-owned business, how does that shape your growth strategy for future years?
''We are extremely proud of our brand’s story and especially how much has been accomplished over the last 40 years. From our first roaster in 1991 and the move of our production facility to our iconic Dutch barn in 2014, to The Edge Café and Edge by the Sea, the growth of the business has been laid on solid foundations. As we look ahead, we’re looking at how we can continue to grow sustainably. We personally visit farmers worldwide to identify producers who farm both sustainably and care for their communities and we ensure we pay a fair wage to our farmers. Speciality coffee is a precious product and there are limited, even dwindling, supplies of this in the world. Now, more than ever it is extremely important to work with sustainable producers and we look forward to fostering even stronger relationships with farmers as well as growing our direct to consumer and retail trade.''
What do you feel are the biggest barriers to growth for businesses?
''Access to funding is a huge challenge as a growing business and it really is the support of strategic funding that can accelerate growth. I am lucky to have an excellent network, a fantastic team and a partner to run the business with but if you are starting out, free networking, 121 business support and expert advice can be invaluable.''
What do you think the future looks like for the tea and coffee industry?
''We live in a world where consumers are taking a greater interest in the provenance of the products they are buying, something that we are more than happy to share. We’re also seeing a big shift in consumer interest towards sustainable alternatives to packaging which is one of the reasons all our packaging is fully recyclable, with single colour branding which all saves on printing resources. Sustainability has always been at the heart of everything we do and so we’re looking forward to seeing even more suppliers and producers adopting more sustainable practices to look after our environment.''
HOW WE CAN HELP!
Coast to Capital has helped Edgcumbes access funding from the Regional Growth Fund (2013-15) and our team of Growth Champions have supported with the development of a three-year growth model and a potential subscription model.
If you’re a growing business with ambitious plans and you’re looking for support to reach your next target, get in touch with our Growth Hub to see what support is available.