The Scotland-based wholesaler has identified a range of food-to-go opportunities and made regionality fundamental to its product ranges.
They say that New York is the city that never sleeps. But Lomond Fine Foods was awake to the learnings for the UK from that market.
A knowledge-building trip to the US is one of the ways that the Glasgow-based wholesale operation and bakery has proved that it is a small but agile mover in the marketplace. Part of the Landmark Group for more than three years, the wholesaler’s main customer base is coffee shops and sandwich bars throughout Scotland; it also supplies The Co-op in England with its recently-launched own-brand of cakes and tray bakes under the Cake logo.
Founded by husband and wife team Sam and Barbara Henderson, Lomond’s ambition is to be seen as the “supplier of choice for innovation”. Explaining the trip to The Big Apple, in which food-to-go outlets were visited, procurement director Paul Lancaster says: “We understand market peaks and troughs, but we wanted to know what was coming next.”
Stateside, sandwiches are displayed whole and fresh rather than constructed while you wait. “Every ingredient is listed on the food ticket and the finished product comes in a presentation box or sleeve. It is about theatre and experience,” he adds.
In response, Lomond created recipes for a sandwich and hot food-to-go range, pulled together nutritional and allergen information, provided assembly instructions, and showcased packaging concepts to help customers reimagine how their food displays can draw in extra sales.
Lomond has partnered with Durham-based Redemption Food, which provides chilled fresh soup in 4kg tubs. With more than 100 varieties on offer, Lomond now sells five tonnes of soup a week. It also supplies menu cards, cups, and the soup boiler itself.
“It has been fantastic business for us because customers sell it in their shops as homemade,” says Lancaster. “Great soup combined with a great food-to-go offer is very powerful. It is a massive, unique business for us with fresh, quality ingredients that are consistent and wholesome.”
The Hendersons were unsatisfied with cakes already on the market, so opened a small bakery to serve the sandwich and coffee shops Lomond already supplied.
Over the past three years, this cake offering has grown rapidly and the bakery now has its own dedicated site in Glasgow’s south-side.
“We control the ingredients and quality, and we develop interesting concepts that fit nicely with our customer profile,” says Lancaster. Lomond is going one step further with the launch of its own brand, Cake, which will soon be available to wholesalers and cash & carries via Landmark. “Innovation can take time. If we worked with a supplier, it could take six months. Our bakery can produce a prototype product in one week,” he adds.
Lomond prides itself on offering customers a level of regionality. “People always want stalwarts, so from Stornaway to Stockport, Stilton will always be a favourite,” says Lancaster. “But within that, you can provide a local Scottish cheese or a crumbly Lancaster cheese alongside regional hams or pies.”
Wherever it makes sense commercially, Lomond will source products to meet local demands, adds Lancaster. “It is a challenge, because we can’t buy by the pallet, so have to buy by the individual case, box or block. But we do go the extra mile.”
Making it happen
According to Lancaster, what sets Lomond apart from its larger competitors is its ability to make things happen. “We want to be seen as the supplier of choice for innovation, and we see the way to do that as taking care of our customer base, and helping them to deliver innovation. We are not about the race to the bottom,” he explains.
Spot-on delivery times, consistency and not supplying short-dated products are just some of the areas Lomond has sought to get right, according to Lancaster: “When you are a large wholesaler, 30 or 40 deli counters is not that exciting. But for us, it is amazing. We are always thinking about what can come of that.”