Although a relatively new kid on the block, having only been established in 2011, Buckley & Beale (formerly RB Distribution Ltd) has quickly made a name for itself with its imports of high quality products unavailable anywhere else in the UK marketplace.
“Having travelled extensively in the US over many years, I developed a comprehensive knowledge of the range and quality of artisan food available over there,” explains Adrian Beale, Co-owner. “Myself and my business partner, Noreen Finnamore, who also has significant experience of the US, soon realised there was not only evidence of that old cliché: ‘a gap in the market’ but that there was actually a ‘market in the gap’ for slightly more specialised American foods that were of a superior quality to the brand items that were widely available in the UK, such as Lucky Charms, Hershey Bars and Marshmallow Fluff.
“The US is a country with amazing natural resources and a heritage of farming. As a consequence there is a wealth of truly exceptional products in the US that weren’t being exported anywhere – never mind into the UK – and it’s these type of items that we’re focusing on. We’re not interested in niche products; we’re looking for lines with real potential for strong sales that provide a real, quality alternative to what’s currently available in the UK. Sales of McClure’s extraordinary deli pickles and relishes, Koeze peanut butter (which is just peanuts and salt, with no added palm oil or sugar), Guittard Chocolate, and the iconic Slap Ya Mama Cajun spices (which come in both retail and catering format) have proven that the British public has a real appetite for quality American products. Our line of breath mints (VerMints) have also seen a dramatic upturn in sales as customers appreciate flavours such as Cinnamon and Ginger alongside the regular Peppermint.”
The company started off in a very small way with the likes of high quality maple syrup and pancake mixes, and despite the challenges associated with starting any new business, Buckley & Beale has been able to cover a significant amount of ground already. One of the aces it has up its sleeve is that in the majority of cases it deals directly with manufacturers. This enables it to offer own label and provide a much faster rate of supply. “There’s not much we can’t do, and this is another clear differentiator between ourselves and other UK-based wholesalers,” adds Mr Beale. “Creating any new business is always hard work initially as you have to let people know you even exist. The first thing we did was hit the tradeshows including the usual suspects, such as Speciality & Fine Food Fair and IFE. We have now built a name and reputation for providing a unique proposition within the UK marketplace. We didn’t focus on what the other operators were importing, and instead concentrated on products with a real point of difference that weren’t available in the UK. We’re already in a nice mix of delis, restaurants and multiples, and we’re looking to increase our presence further in retailers across the UK.
“The US is a country with amazing natural resources and a heritage of farming. As a consequence there is a wealth of truly exceptional products in the US that weren’t being exported anywhere – never mind into the UK – and it’s these type of items that we’re focusing on.”
Adrian Beale, Co-owner
“Having come from a retail background, I am well aware of the challenges the sector faces, so we strive to anticipate and avoid anything that makes our customers’ lives harder. Our ambition, therefore, is to develop long-term relationships with our customer base and we can only do that if our service is a cut above the rest, whether we are servicing a high street multiple or a specialist deli.”
With there being a real appetite for new high quality products within the UK marketplace as consumers’ tastes broaden, Buckley & Beale is well placed to continue building on the growth it has seen already.
Buckley & Beale can be seen at the IFE show at Excel 22nd-24th March on stand S4468