A London-based food manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer has changed its business model in lockdown with the support of a six-figure asset finance package from Lloyds Bank.
Before the pandemic, Eko Food Market, which sells African cooking ingredients to retailers and directly to consumers, purchased the majority of its products from Nigeria. But, when its supply chain was disrupted, the business looked to obtain stock closer to home, including ramping up production of its own.
The move was made possible by Lloyds Bank providing asset finance, which lets a business invest in big ticket items and spread the cost over the asset’s lifetime. Eko Food Market has used the facility to buy a new kitchen along with the equipment needed to become a fully-fledged manufacturer, including ovens and smokers, refrigerators and freezers, mixing and packaging machines and, most recently, a new van for deliveries.
Some of the products Eko Food Market has made so far, using ingredients sourced locally and from Europe, are flours made from plantains and yams, jollof sauce, and smoked catfish. During lockdown, it has also created ‘working from home’ packages for people who don’t have time to cook.
Owner Christine, who founded the business in 2003 and now employs 10 permanent and a further 20 temporary staff, says it is now benefitting from taking a new, exciting direction.
“The last 12 months have taught me never to miss the opportunity to take a fresh look at how you do things. At first, the pandemic brought many challenges but, from finding ways to overcome them, we’re now operating on a larger scale and are in a position to keep expanding, and bringing a taste of Africa to more of the UK.
“The support we continue to receive from the team at Lloyds Bank, from their market insight to their lightning-fast response time, is fantastic.”
Eko Food Market has been a customer of Lloyds Bank since 2017.
Alex Fernando, relationship manager at Lloyds Bank, added: “It’s great to see such a passionate business be able to mitigate the adverse impact of the pandemic to continue doing what it does best. With our support, it’s increased manufacturing for the benefit of its customers and local community.
“We’ll remain by the side of business customers of all shapes and sizes to help guide them through the ongoing challenges the UK economy faces.”