For Debbie, Bury Market will always be at the heart of her business no matter how big it grows - she has learnt so much that has helped her to get where she is today.
Debbie began working on her local market at the young age of 12 as a Saturday girl, working for James Wallace who sold his own chickens along with locally produced eggs, cheese sausage and black pudding.
“Jim was one of the longest standing traders on Bury Market and had a stall on the old market before it burnt down many years ago.
“He was one of life’s true gentleman who became like a grandad to me – he liked the simple things in life and taught me some great morals.”
Debbie can attribute many of her business skills to working on Bury Market over the years, often going to collect stock from suppliers and looking after the stall when Jim went to close up his other business on Bolton Market.
“In 2002, Jim wanted to retire so I took over the stall. It was only open 3 days a week so I needed to expand it somehow. I wanted to shout about this great black pudding we sold and knew there were opportunities to do more with it!
“A lot of food websites were just starting up at the time, so I got a £1000 grant from a business start-up organisation to build a website and started selling online, delivering products from the stall all over the UK.
“I needed a name for this new venture so called it ‘The Bury Black Pudding Company’ as it said everything about what we did without any explanation required.”
Debbie also realised there was opportunity being missed - there was a gap on supermarket shelves for a decent black pudding product and she felt that The Bury Black Pudding Company could fill that gap.
As part of expanding the business she became partners with Richard Morris who had taken over his father’s black pudding business where he’d spent many of his teenage years working.
“Richard’s family had been making black pudding for generations so when we teamed up I went knocking on all the supermarkets’ doors.
“We managed to start supplying a few supermarkets locally, then regionally and then nationally. I believe this is because along with our quality product, packaging and 100% good customer service we are able to offer the whole package and it has helped us go from strength to strength.”
Over the years the business has grown significantly and as it has grown there have been more areas in the business to offer job opportunities. From the very beginning the Bury Black Pudding Company has taken on apprentices, teaching them skills in the food manufacturing industry.
“It’s very satisfying teaching the skill sets a food manufacturing business can offer and there are some real gems amongst the young staff we have, it’s great to watch them achieve and be motivated.
“Taking on apprentices helps us bring in new ideas, keep in touch with a younger generation and evenly spread the age of our workforce so that we can pass on traditional skills and mould promising young people into the culture of a good, quality focused and caring company.
“We enable them to gain hands on experience, learn a good work ethic and have access to a range of careers locally – I would definitely recommend taking on apprentices to other businesses but it is also important to get the right candidates for you.”
Even with the businesses’ continued growth, it is clear that Debbie and Richard will never give up their roots.
“We still have our market stall and it’s still very much a part of our business. It’s our history, part of our tradition and company profile, we’ll always continue to have the stall.
“I still love doing the odd days on the market, catching up with customers, I’m still serving customers I served when I first started and now their children too. It’s a real community atmosphere, we have a laugh and it’s a shopping environment you just can’t get anywhere else.”
As with every business there have been stumbling blocks along the way but Debbie’s and Richard’s hard work and perseverance have seen them through.
“It’s been a very tough journey but you have to keep brushing yourself off and moving forward, keeping your goal in sight at all times.
“With our fantastic team of people, we make sure we’re all learning and changing all the time – upping our game to cope with where our company is going. It’s been a real challenge for all of us but very rewarding.
"If I was to give any advice to new businesses starting on markets, I would really recommend doing it, but you have got to keep changing with the environment and trends, keep offering keen prices and give customers that personal customer service and banter that only a market can offer.
“You’ve got to make sure you choose the right market and research whether what you’re offering is in demand there.
“Shopping habits are changing, we’ve got to use and build on the assets we offer as market traders, because they are still unique and there’s still a place for it in this ever changing world."
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