A former City headhunter is transforming a sleepy French jam-making operation into a multi million pound business
A former City headhunter is transforming a sleepy French jam-making operation into a multi million pound business supplying jams and condiments to Luxury hotels around the world.
Eli Gifford, 34, once placed workers in London's distressed debt hedge fund industry for Morgan Hunt.
Now he has doubled the size of a small Jam-making operation in Northern France and supplies hotel like the Mandarin in Hong Kong, the Ritz in Paris as well as the Lanesborough, Claridges and the Four Seasons in London.
In addition the French National Assembly in Paris, Wholefoods in London and a dozen Michelin-starred Chefs, including Alain Ducasse, buy his products.
Eli left the City seven years ago and in the last three years has doubled the turnover and the workforce of the Le Touquet-based company, Tea Together.
With help from local Government in the Northern France region, Eli is cashing in on the boom for handmade organic condiments and anticipating another doubling of growth in the next five years.
The London-born, Oxford Brookes Business studies graduate said: "At Morgan Hunt I was dealing with some serious players. Working in the City is about customer satisfaction and we've translated that. There are a lot of great salespeople in head hunting and I learned a lot from them.
But I started in the City straight from University when I was 21 and needed a change. But the lessons I learned in the City have been invaluable."
With the help of social investment funds from IRD in Lille, Eli settled the companies debts and bought out his parents, Nick and Judy who had run the company as a cottage industry at their farm in the Northern French countryside.
With the help of the Mayor of Le Touquet, Daniel Fasquelle a Deputy in the National Assembly, he acquired a municipal warehouse in the town and now prepares over a hundred different flavours of Jam, Marmalade and even Tomato Sauce, shipping them all over the world.
He said: "Le Touquet has amazing transport links and is halfway between London and Paris and Belgium, which is where the majority of our market is, although we will sell anywhere. In fact currently there's a place in New York that buys our stuff.
"A lot of our success is getting the stuff to people efficiently. A major hotel in London rang up with a last minute order one afternoon last week and we had it at their depot by 7 am the next morning and I have driven overnight to Geneva before now to drop off an order."
While the lush fields and abundant orchards of Northern France are an inspiration, Gifford actually sources his organic fruits from all over Europe, including Kent just over the channel.
He said: "There is a huge demand for quality organic products. All our stuff is hand-made but on a bigger scale. We offer artisans quality with the efficiency of a big company."