Product: Charlie Bigham’s food range
People behind it:
Name: Charlie Bigham
Charlie Bigham founded Bigham’s in 1996 after six years as a management consultant, first in the financial services sector at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) and then with ABL, a specialist consultancy working on large projects for museums, art galleries and theatres. Travelling in China, India and elsewhere in the Far East, he saw how local cooks prepared dishes using only the freshest ingredients. Back in the UK, he set about trying to reproduce the tastes and quality of those dishes but in a convenient, ready-to-cool format.
Bigham’s has been on the market for 11 years but 2008 sees some major changes. The name is becoming Charlie Bigham’s, to put more of a human face on the brand. Packaging is being reduced, using recycled cardboard instead of plastic trays wherever possible, for example. It also operates a collection service, so consumers can return the ceramic serving dishes that some of the products come in, which are then cleaned and reused.
Charlie Bigham started developing his recipes in his kitchen in West London. Despite having £25,000 of his own savings, he was rejected by ten banks before he got funding to expand from Portobello Business Centre and Business Link. The brand is now a £14m-turnover business with 150 employees, is stocked by major retailers, including Waitrose, and has won awards including Best New International Food at SIAL, the giant food show in Paris.
How it fits
Charlie Bigham saw a growing interest among a small but affluent section of the population in better quality, ready-to-cook meals with natural ingredients. The move to reduced environmental impact – the kitchens run on sustainable power and the buildings are designed to be energy efficient – and the use of his own name and personality on the brand, shows that the company can react to changing consumer demands.