Meat Based Products Supplied to the Wholesale, Catering and Food Services Sector
The new £3.2 million facility opened in 2000 in Millennium Way, Newcastle-under-Lyme, shortly after Philip Blakeman and his sister, Financial Director Susan Cope, took over running the business from their father Jim, now Chairman. The new facility allowed Blakeman’s to enter the cooked market with the capability of producing deep fried, oven cooked and steamed products and accommodate ever-increasing orders from its customers. Managing Director, Philip Blakeman, explains: “We’ve been committed to supplying the catering and fast food industries with the highest quality product for over 60 years and we’ve demonstrated our commitment to the future of the industry by making this investment. Production capacity has doubled”. According to Jim Blakeman “Since Philip and Susan took over they’ve consolidated our position in the frozen & chilled markets and moved us successfully into new cooked markets by following the core principles we’ve always employed”.
A focus on quality made Blakeman’s a leading supplier to both UK and foreign markets with a worldwide distribution of 12,000 tonnes of its products a year, and an annual turnover of £12m.
In 2006 the millennium way site was expanded by 17,000 square foot, providing additional cold storage at a cost of £1.5 million. In 2008 the cold store was closed and converted into the current manufacturing site, adding a further £4.4 million investment. The conversion of the site saw the Longport factory move to Millennium Way, the instillation of state of the art Spiral freezers and a large office expansion. The new industry-leading design of the factory is one of the most advanced in Europe, with the lowest carbon footprint for a development of its type. According to Phillip “The building uses energy efficient lighting throughout with lighting sensors and we have replaced our gas fridges with eco-friendly ones. We also recycle all of our waste and our packaging is locally sourced, which reduces vehicle miles.”
A key principle has been investing in the most efficient manufacturing processes, whether plant, machinery, recruitment, training or quality assurance systems. Phillip Blakeman says: “The majority of our 200 employees are longstanding and we send our management teams off on external courses. We also employ consultants who regularly advise and work with us on ever-changing legislation. Our in-house training is always up to date.”
Blakeman’s has had a fully integrated IT system that links every departmental function since ‘efsis’ issued guidelines on ‘instant time live data’ standards in 2005. The system known as Tropos, supplied by SSI provides real-time, full traceability of ingredients throughout the production process, all carried out through touch screen technology. “We’ve always invested in the latest plant and equipment and our IT systems are of an equivalent standard to improve efficiency and reduce costs. This has been fundamental in us attracting a number of new clients, all of whom continue to benefit from the investment we have continually made in state-of-the art manufacturing, storage and distribution systems, which has resulted in an operation that is widely regarded as a model to the rest of Europe.”
Bespoke recipes can be formulated in the development kitchen where Blakeman’s product development team work with clients to create products to match their specifications exactly.