This article was written by leading food and travel journalist, Angela Youngman.
The scent of honey is proving a sweet route to success for former rugby player Scott Davies. His firm, Hilltop Honey, has grown from nothing to a £2.4m company in five years and now supplies the Co-Op, Wholefoods, Tesco and Sainsbury.
“I was 21 when I hurt my back and I needed to do something with my life. Walking to a bee-hive in the garden at home formed part of my physio routine and recuperation. I always wanted my own business and to work outside. I quickly got the bee-keeping bug,” says Scott. My bank manager was faced with a 12 page business plan and said ‘you’ll never sell all that honey. I said, I’ll try.’ I set up a small sales business for the honey and took various short courses on business and marketing to get myself going. I took advatage of grants and Welsh Government help which included the chance to exhibit for one day at a big trade show. Holland & Barrett came on my stand and a year later I was supplying them with 18,000 jars. I did pitches for Tesco, Sainsbury, Wholefoods and the Co-0p and created a business now worth £2.4m.’
At the Co-op, Hilltop Honey has gained a contract to supply own-branded honey to more than 500 Co-Op stores throughout the UK.
With the help of the Welsh Government, Hilltop Honey is set to move its jarring operation from the village of Caersws to Newtown and has ambitions to increase its workforce to over 30 over the next three years.
Scott believes there is a lot of scope to grow the company still further. He says
“The UK, as a honey producing country, provides just 10% of what the UK needs to eat. I started with 45 honey bee hives of my own, and now have around 30 suppliers within the UK and suppliers in Eastern Europe. My mission is to provide quality honey, stressing the different types and flavours such as Scottish heather honey, English wildflower, Welsh wildflower, organic honey from Eastern Europe, honey combs and much more.”
Hilltop Honey won the Golden Fork Award at the Great Taste Awards and the Micro Business Award at the Powys Business Awards in 2016.
Simon Dryell, Ranging manager for the Co-op’s food stores in Wales, said:
“Hilltop Honey is a Welsh success story full of passion for great quality produce and a determination to overcome adversity.”