When Robert Parkin and his wife started their traditional pub snacks business over 12 years ago, they could not have predicted the huge growth and demand that they see today.
Robert’s Dorset, based in Wimborne, Dorset, has seen phenomenal growth since its humble beginning back in 2011, operating with just a couple of employees out of its ‘modest kitchen’. Just in the last year the business has achieved a turnover of £750,000, with a £1.5m turnover predicted for the business in 2024.
Now available across mainland UK, Robert’s Dorset has achieved a Great Taste Award for its Sweet Chilli nuts and Classic Sea Salt Crackling, which are both number one sellers for the business, supplying local Co-Op stores in Dorset, Hall and Woodhouse pub group locations nationwide, as well as independent pubs, delis and butchers across the UK.
In addition to its ‘best-seller’ flavoured pork crackling range, the business also makes and supplies nuts and fudge, boasting over 600 stockists across the country from Scotland to Cornwall.
Robert and his family’s story, like many SMEs across The APC network, is proof of what fierce determination and passion can achieve, even in the face of adversity, and how having the right partners – like Chase Freight and The APC – supporting them on the journey is key.
Personal health issues 12 years ago gave Robert the drive and determination to set up the family business. After months and months of experimenting with ingredients and flavours to try and make the best product on the market, Robert created the only flavoured pork crackling worldwide that is allergen free and 100% KETO and made all of its nut products vegan and gluten free.
Robert and his family started to take the products to local markets in and around Dorset, and were thrilled with the response for the low salt and high protein products. The family-run business has worked hard to maintain its most popular products, whilst developing new flavours and ideas to meet the growing consumer demand, now producing 11 different flavours of pork crackling, along with a growing range of nut and fudge products.
“When my health deteriorated, I knew I wanted to build a business that would become a legacy for my kids but I could never have imagined the business to have grown to what it is today. The feedback we receive from customers – that they love our products and want to buy them again – has been instrumental in driving the growth of our business and we couldn’t be prouder.” said Robert Parkin, founder of the business.
Robert’s Dorset has also seen increased demand directly from consumers, having successfully built up a fanbase on its TikTok Shop run by Robert’s son’s Louis and Rorke, generating over £1,000 worth of orders after the first one-hour appearance on the social media platform and amassing over 800 followers in just five months. The two sons share live content each week, showcasing the brand’s personality and humour through engaging videos with their follower base.
The right network
For the first few years, Robert’s Dorset was selling its products at local markets in and around Dorset, and was really pleased with the response. However, the drive for Robert was to create a fantastic product that could be sold to pubs, bars and trades across the country. To make this happen, the family-run firm needed a reliable delivery partner that could support its ambitions.
After trying a few delivery partners with little success, Robert’s Dorset teamed up with The APC and its member depot, Chase Freight – an independent delivery firm based in Dorset – to deliver further afield, with orders coming in from across the UK. In December, Robert’s Dorset shipped over 2,000 orders nationwide with the support of The APC network and Chase Freight, an increase of 100% compared with December 2022.
Robert was able to trust in the local and personal service of Chase Freight and the experience of The APC network to handle and deliver its products safely; with the same care and attention they pride themselves on at Robert’s Dorset: “With Chase Freight and The APC network, I can trust them to represent our business and provide a reliable service. A courier turns up and takes the parcel, and that’s it. It will get there the next day, in perfect condition.”
For Robert, having a team that could act as a partner and extension to his business was key, and from the start, the relationship with Chase Freight proved to be invaluable: “The team are fantastic at communicating with us and our customers, and we have a really great relationship with them. The structure of The APC Network – local businesses supporting other local businesses – gives us the right level of focus and flexibility to meet our customers’ needs.”
“The team is always quick to find solutions and are in regular communication with us if there is an issue – which is very rare! It was the best thing we ever did for our business to partner with Chase Freight and our reviews are a testament to the great service they provide not only to us, but to our customers too.”
Glenn Edwards, General Manager at Chase Freight said: “We are incredibly proud to be able to partner with Robert’s Dorset and support local SME businesses. The nature of The APC’s network allows us to provide a flexible service that we can tailor to suit the different needs of our customers. It is hugely important to us that we continue to build strong relationships with all of our customers, and that they trust us to represent their business to provide an unbeatable service.”
A crackling future
For Robert and his family, the relationship with Chase Freight and The APC has enabled them to truly take the business to the next level, with plans to invest a further £250,000 into the business during 2024: “The growth we have seen over the last 12 months has given us the confidence to invest in our team, open new, larger premises and introduce high-quality machinery to improve the efficiency of our production. This investment is key as we move forwards, helping to meet the surging demand and ensuring more customers can enjoy our much-loved products.”