Retail

It’s hard to think of a more traditional business than third generation family affair Carrs Pasties.

Since 1938, Carrs Pasties have been supplying delicious, freshly baked food to the people of Bolton and beyond.

Co-owner and director Matt Carr joined the company in 2013 and is quietly leading a revolution with technology at its core.

Speaking at TechBlast’s latest Going 4 Growth roundtable he says: “We are investing in marketing, we are investing in technology, making sure the company does not fall over as it enters a high growth phase.

“We’ve got to keep an eye on the bottom line of course. People, planet, profit are the watchwords as well.

“In order to do that you should not be afraid of seeing what’s coming around the corner.

“We ae looking at the necessity of making sure we have coders in the business.

“We are looking at building our Microsoft platform into an ERP (enterprise resource planning). The ERP is the central bit of kit. It’s at the heart of our IT system and handles all our data, ranging from the stuff that comes from the factory floor to our customer behaviour.

“We can build that now. We didn’t know we could do that until we were educated by people in the tech sector.”

Carr joined the family business nine years ago after spending his early career working in technology roles and he co-owns the company alongside his brothers Liam and Joseph.

“We employ 100 people and have a turnover of £4.5m,” he says. “But we’re growing very quickly as we come out of Covid. We’ve got a plan to get to an eight figure sum and we’re borrowing a seven figure sum to achieve it.

“We’ve purchased all our adjacent land that is around us and in order to create a factory of the future we have to make a large investment.

“We’re looking at 13-15% growth as a target for the next few years as we look to get to an eight figure turnover.”

The father-of-three says the company has accelerated its growth strategy after Covid.

“When you come out of a recession it’s really scary to read from various business schools that you need to invest in marketing,” he says. “Marketing is part of the soft touch stuff that doesn’t have an immediate payback.

“You might need to invest 10% or your turnover in marketing in order to make sure the word gets out.

I wish I’d been brave enough to find my voice earlier

“That’s why we’ve now got trade partners wanting to work with us. We’re looking for independent businesses who want to work with us. In order to do that we’ve got to get the word out there about who we are.

“Once it’s out there we’ve had some really positive feedback. We’re talking to a venue at London St Pancras. We’re currently supplying a petrol station in Moreton-in-Marsh in the Cotswolds and I’m going to Ireland to look at the petrol forecourt industry over there.

“It’s something we’ve been scared to do but after the pandemic we realised it’s something we must do and now we’re running all over the place.”

Carr highlighted the recruitment of Gavin Astley as operations director as being crucial to the company’s growth strategy.

“He came from a really big packaging firm called Saica Flex and he’s brought a real expertise and a dynamic change to the business,” he says.

“He had to be the right person. We have really strong values. We do the right things and we do everything with pride. Our mission is to be in every home in the UK.

“Gavin looked at our business and said ‘if you really want to do this, you need to do A, B and C’.

“In order to make sure this company fulfils its promise to our staff and our customers we have to become a high growth company. There’s no other way around it.

“You can’t sit still and be conservative. It’s about reconciling the fact that you’re a traditional company with family values with being a dynamic company with all the modern tech tools at our disposal in order to deliver on what we say.”