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£500K investment for Leeds pancake firm

18 October 2011

A pancake business launched by two university colleagues has secured £500,000 of investment that has enabled a move to a new manufacturing and distribution headquarters in Leeds

Neil Tipping (31) and Jon White (30) met 11 years ago while on the same degree course at Leeds Metropolitan University and opened enjays in 2005 from a shop in Headingley.

Backed by a loan from NatWest and equity capital from a number of business angels, enjays pancakes has been able to finance a new 10,000 sq ft facility in South Leeds. The additional capacity has enabled the creation of new lines and sales of its ‘secret recipe’ pancakes are heading for double digit growth.

The expansion includes a brand new production line that manufactures various sizes of pancakes, including blinis at rates of up to 18,000 an hour.

Craig Hindmarsh, who has a highly successful track record in managing large blue chip food manufacturing businesses, joined the enjays board to assist in driving the expansion forward. He commented: “I saw the potential from the first time I met Jon and Neil. The growth of enjays since its beginning has been phenomenal, showing that there is a fantastic demand for its products.”

From a small creperie selling around 30,000 pancakes in its first year, enjays has become a national operation supplying pancake concepts to over 40 UK outlets including Butlins and Merlin Entertainments Group which operates Alton Towers and The Tussauds Group.

It is the new facility however that is now allowing the business to focus on supplying high quality pre-made pancakes into the food service and retail sectors.

“In the last few years opening retail outlets has been extremely difficult due to high start up costs and low levels of lending. We considered all our options for growth and decided that developing a first class range of pancake products that utilises customers existing equipment for preparation was the best way to move things forward rapidly,” said Jon White.

“We were aware very early that healthy eating and quality were becoming increasingly important to our customers, and throughout our years of growth we’ve never changed our policy of using only the healthiest natural ingredients, including free range eggs,” commented Neil Tipping.

enjays has received a £10,000 grant through Leeds City Council’s Business Growth Fund, set up to support capital investment and employment creation. Paul Stephens, Leeds City Council’s chief economic development officer, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting entrepreneurs such as Neil and Jon. They have a great business proposition and new ventures of this kind play a vital role in creating new jobs and developing a thriving economy.”

enjays also has a direct link to a diverse range of customers through its e-commerce operation, which contributes a healthy six-figure sum to annual sales. This allows the business to establish firsthand the latest trends in the market place.

“The new facilities are enabling us to expand our range and offer our existing customers exciting new products as well as allowing us to look at the food service sector and retail sector in more detail. We feel we’re at the start of a much bigger future,” added Craig.

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