Phone call that changed it all

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ALMOST a decade ago, father and daughter team Pat and Lisa Drummy made a phone call that was to change their lives – and their business.

They had been running a vegan health food shop in Fareham High Street and began stocking frozen food from South Africa.

But when their contact stopped returning calls, Pat and Lisa found themselves on a plane to Belgium on what was the first step of their journey to set up Beanie’s Health Foods, based in Segensworth.

Lisa said the change happened so quickly that they were left breathless by it all.

She added: ‘We’d responded to an ad in the Vegetarian Society Magazine promoting high-quality frozen food from South Africa by mail order.

‘The lady who placed the ad came to see us, and we ended up buying everything she had to offer. They were all made by Fry’s of Kwa Zulu Natal, recognised right across the world as the most ethical and realistic meat replacement products there are. Then, one day she suddenly stopped returning our calls – so we got in touch with Fry’s directly.’

It was that phone call which led them to board a plane to Belgium to meet the company, where they were offered the exclusive wholesale contract for Fry’s in the UK.

Lisa said: ‘We signed on the spot. And then we started to panic, because we had literally nothing in place, not even a freezer.’

But their family rallied, including Lisa’s husband Stephen who looks after the IT, mother Eileen and aunt and uncle Audrey and John, who help out at trade shows and when times are particularly busy.

But they needed help in learning about business, and turned to Business Link for advice.

Lisa said: ‘Before the health food shop, my dad was in the Navy and I was a teacher. That’s where Business Link came in.’

Business link adviser Graham Denney, said: ‘Pat and Lisa are clearly showing just what can be achieved with the right attitude and the right support.

‘You don’t have to have armies of people as long as you keep things simple and focus on what really needs to be done – and that’s precisely what they have achieved.

‘What’s more, it is an approach that helped them sustain year-on-year profits growth right through the recession – and not too many companies can claim that.’

Call Business Link on 0845 600 9 006 or email info@businesslinksoutheast.co.uk or visit businesslink.gov.uk/southeast