The owner of Jolly Foods smiling

From Kitchen to Wholesale: How Former Chef Built Jolly Foods Into a Thriving Meat Supplier

Starting 20 years ago in the Cotswolds with just a van, a vision and relentless drive, Tim Adair founded Jolly Foods with a focus on meat wholesale. 

A former chef with a commitment to fair pricing, Tim has since expanded the Jolly Foods’ range.  Now offering a selection of fresh and frozen seafood and a range of deli items, the business has a glowing reputation with its clients, who range from educational establishments to pubs and restaurants. 

Today, Jolly Foods has become the go-to food supplier and distributor in the Cotswolds, with an ambitious goal to double their turnover every four-five years.

To continue to push for growth, and increase the excellent service they offer to their clients, in 2022 Jolly Foods made the move from paper-based operations to Fresho.  The result has been near-perfect order accuracy, effortless business monitoring, and a significant boost in sales. In an interview with Tim, he gushed about the positive impact of the transition, stating “It’s been brilliant, to be fair. The switch to Fresho has been the best decision we’ve made.” 

In our interview with Tim, we got some insights into life at Jolly Foods and the evolution of its operations.

Here’s how it went.

Tell us about Jolly Foods and your journey so far?

When I started out it was just me, a van, and some cold storage.  After registering with Environmental Health, I purchased stock from a meat wholesaler outside of Banbury and started loading my van up to door-knock at pubs, restaurants, hotels and golf courses. 

Eventually, I was selling enough to cut my hours down as a chef, before finally taking the plunge and going full-time as a wholesaler, starting off with meat, before expanding to include frozen seafood, fresh seafood, cheeses and a deli range. 

In 2012 we acquired a freehold unit, took on a salesman, and built a butchery. From there we have just continued to grow, in the last eight years, we’ve gone from two vehicles to five.

"Our business has gone from strength to strength."

What was your motivation for setting up as a supplier?

I always felt there was a gap in the market. There were a lot of food wholesalers charging extortionate prices and then giving discounts. Whether you’re a small customer or a large customer, they all pay the same price. I wanted to be honest with customers and charge a fair price for a quality product. 

With a background in catering butchering and a passion reignited from working for my father’s business as a young lad in the 90s, I worked my socks off to build my own venture and now I have my son working for me. He’s next in line!

What makes Jolly Foods unique?

Our quality and exceptional service. Larger companies can’t be so reactive. We could be supplying a college, a school, or a university – if they are missing something, or a supplier lets them down, we can send the order out quickly.

From that, we gain customers because they know they can rely on us. 

We also hand-cut a lot of our steaks and place real value on traditional butchery skills. There are larger catering butchers that turnover 10 times what we do but they have machines processing everything.  At Jolly’s, everything is done by humans except the packing. 

What was life like before Fresho?

Our system was prone to errors and was time-consuming, with manual data entry taking up to an hour for 30 messages. This resulted in delays, with drivers waiting up to an hour and a half for the van to be loaded.  If we were still working that way, we certainly would have not been able to handle the growth of the business.

How have things changed with Fresho?

Streamlining processes

Fresho has revolutionised our order process, almost completely eliminating mistakes. 

Our accounts system still goes through Sage. But now we send one Fresho invoice to customers – we don’t need a second invoice to get signed.

Fresho also prints delivery runs, pushing orders to the correct delivery vehicle, saving four people from manually working it out.

It’s flexible and really helps the early-hours workers.

Time & money savings 

We don’t get floods of calls because our customers now use the software to answer those simple questions.  This means we can spend more time on sales and marketing. 

Our bookkeeper has gone from full-time to part-time hours. This has saved us about three days a week in labour costs.

“For the fee we pay for Fresho, we are getting back four times from saving on labour.”

How did your team adapt from picking orders on paper to paperless?

The team have adapted brilliantly!  We invested in a couple of computers in the loading bay and picking areas.  For online picking, the butchery produces stock and has a minimum stock level. Every time that goes down they replenish the stock, then pick from the computers. 

Now we only use a single sheet of paper, the freezer list, for picking product sales for that day. This helps save paper and the planet, and the team can see how much easier it makes their day-to-day tasks.

As a business owner, what impact has Fresho had on you personally?

The biggest bonus for me is that I can log in to Fresho from anywhere in the world, from my phone or laptop, check the value on each van run and work out daily sales with just one click. 

It’s easy to see what you’ve done and where the business is at. It gives you that peace of mind.

Has Fresho increased sales for Jolly Foods?

Having the app does increase sales, definitely. We send out brochures every three months, but chefs don’t often read them. In the app they see we sell clotted cream or mint sauce when they didn’t know we did.  It is easier for them to just add something to their order with us, rather than go to another supplier.

“We are gaining sales as people realise we stock more products than they can imagine!”

What does the future hold for Jolly foods?

More growth!  We’re running out of space now so we have got a planning permit to build more office space, fridges and freezers.   From there we want to expand the area we cover and increase our customer base.

Picture of Rupert Hill
Rupert Hill
Based in London, Rupert leads Fresho's UK marketing. He has a track record of using new technologies to help companies be more sustainable. Outside of hours, you'll find him watching his beloved football team (Fulham) or reading a book.
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