Annual Report 2013 - 2014
April is the end of our financial year and the end of our busiest period, so it’s a natural point to reflect as well as look ahead. This year I thought I’d try and write a kind of annual report of what we’ve been up to and detail our future plans. Hopefully it won't read like those terrible round-robin cards at Christmas but here goes...
2013 was a big year for us - we were ticking over very nicely with steady month-on-month growth…..and then Christmas happened. Sales normally triple at that time of year, but this year everything seemed to explode and we were up over 6 times on previous months. Everybody here was pretty relieved to get to the Christmas break in one piece but we did at least manage to get all the orders out before the last posting date so hope yours got there in plenty of time for Christmas!
Being invited onto notonthehighstreet.com was a big step this year. It seems like we hit a bit of a sweet spot by selling a great present at a decent price point (particularly for men as food presents seem very popular right now). We certainly picked up thousands of new customers who’d never heard of us before so welcome to all of you who found us through notonthehighstreet (in case you don’t know about it, it’s a great website for all kinds of unusual and unique gifts so we’d recommend you take a look!).
Significant milestones this year:
New staff this year include our resident spicemailer Suze, Adam who helps pack all the subscription boxes, Shabba who looks after our ingredients, Yee Ping from Malaysia who processes all your voucher redemptions, Josh who does all our tweeting and facebooking and Robyn who’s just joined us and will hopefully be making all our blends from now on.
We’re tantalisingly close to reaching the £1million turnover mark which seems like a major achievement after what feels like many, many years of struggling!
Last summer we launched new versions of our subscriptions - Discoverer and Favourites. At the moment the Discoverer subscriptions are clinging on to bestseller top spot, but it looks like the Friday Night Curry Favourites are due to take over very soon.
Between us we’ve been to China, India, Singapore, Hungary, America, Sicily, Trinidad, France, Spain & Yemen this year and you can read all about those trips on our Spice Travels blog.
New plans for the year ahead:
Our packaging and website is overdue a revamp so we’ve started a big redesign which should be complete by the autumn. With your help we picked 5 words that sum up what we do and will provide a reference point for our new look. The words we picked were bright, warm, innovative, accessible and curious (as in interested and knowledgeable, not as in weird and unusual, obviously!). Hopefully from all that we’ll end up with something that everybody’s happy with but keep an eye out for some sneak previews over the next few months!
Lots of you have been posting photos of your creations on twitter and facebook which we love to see, so we’ve put a Wall of Fame page on our website where you can post photos (and see what we’ve been making as well).
We’re planning to make some changes to the monthly subscriptions in the next few months - lots of you mentioned how the current card vouchers could be much better so we’re planning to make a presentation pack with a specially made box you can use to store all your cards. We’re also thinking about ways for you to manage your own subscription (switching boxes and having more options each month), making the renewal process easier and giving a discounted direct debit option so you can save more when you renew.
We’re still crammed into 4 tiny workshops in Bath but hopefully will be in a fancy new 12000sq ft warehouse in Bristol at some point this summer. We were hoping to move to somewhere big enough to have a shop front where people could drop by and pick up some ingredients, but that's proved more complicated than expected so sadly this might have to wait for the next move! 2013 may have been our last year at the Bath Christmas Market which is a shame, but as it all happens during such a busy time it's become too difficult for our staff to ever make it to the stall. Hopefully we'll be able to find some other events to attend during quieter times of the year in 2014 so we won't spend all our time hidden away in the warehouse!
And finally, I recently visited a charity in Bristol called Refugee Action which provides practical support to refugees and asylum seekers. I’ve always been aware how much we’ve benefited as a business (and the country as a whole) from people who’ve settled here from overseas and have raised families, opened businesses and most importantly from our point of view, shared their food with us.
There is something special about the fact that for centuries Britain has offered people fleeing conflict and persecution a safe place where they’re protected by law and treated with humanity and respect, and that’s a tradition that must be worth continuing regardless of politics or the complexities of the asylum system. It seemed to me that they’re a charity who help some of the most vulnerable people in our society and it looks like they genuinely needed some help so that’s why we’re supporting them from now on.
Hope that all makes sense, thanks for all your support over the last year. Best wishes for the year ahead and I hope you continue to enjoy spicing up your cooking with us!
(Spicery founder and owner)