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Sales soar for South West cheese exporter Coombe Castle as grants support transformation of production line

Wiltshire dairy company Coombe Castle has scaled up its operations to meet continued global demand for South West cheese and clotted cream after being awarded a series of grants.

Coombe Castle, based in Melksham, was established in 1980 and exports dairy products to a range of countries including Japan, Canada, USA and Hong Kong.

The company has recently received bespoke support from Business West’s membership team. This led to the company receiving a £300,000 grant from both DEFRA and the Rural Payments Agency to support the transformation of its processing plant.

This has also given the company the opportunity to purchase equipment and assist with increasing the volumes of cream the company can process.

The business has now increased its production by 20 per cent since 2021 and sales have increased in the last year by 16 per cent. The grant has also helped the company to automate many of its processes, removing the need to rely on employing additional staff at a time when hiring has been difficult for firms across the board.

Cheese is the UK’s third highest value food export and total value exported increased by 12.3 per cent from 2019 – 2022. Total volume exported increased by 14.6 per cent from 2021 – 2022.

Managing director Darren Larvin said: “Being an Initiative Member of Business West has allowed us to not only receive grants, but we’ve also been put in touch with property developers to expand as we are running out of space where we are.

“As we are heavily focused on export, we have also received support from Business West’s export documentation team which has been invaluable during the Brexit transition period.

“Being part of Business West’s membership community really allows for that 360 support for your business.”

The Initiative is Business West’s top-level membership group made up of 160 business leaders and key individuals who want to who positively influence the way the region is shaped, managed, and developed.

As a result of scaling up their production, the company has also been able to invest in its sustainability strategy and has received advice from Business West’s Net Zero Adviser, Aisha Stewart. The business has now created the position of Environmental Lead and are looking at waste reduction including more sustainable packaging alternatives.
Recent research by Time Finance found that half of UK SMEs are anticipated to invest in sustainability in 2023 as pressure mounts for businesses to cut their carbon emissions.

Darren continued: “The Net Zero course with Business West has given us an appetite to go out and do something about our sustainability goals. 70 of the products we make are now in glass jars which are recyclable. We’ve also installed solar panels and energy efficient lighting across the business.”

Emma Carter, director of membership at Business West, said: “Coombe Castle’s recent success and growth is fantastic to see and is a real testament to the impact the business community can have when it comes together.

“As a B Corp organisation, Business West is committed to supporting businesses to grow in a way that balances planet with profit and we would encourage businesses big and small to get in touch with us to make the most out of the thriving business community we have in the South West.”

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