Over the last two years, Trust in the North has developed a confectionery social enterprise called Kenspeckle, which is a Northumbrian dialect word for ‘distinctive’. We chose a name that stood out but also had relevance to where the heart of our business lies.
Through Kenspeckle we wanted to create employment in an area that really needed it, as well as generate funds for the Lynemouth Community Trust and produce a product of genuine quality. Our aim was for Kenspeckle to be a boutique confectionery business and to become a signature brand in the North East, whilst providing exciting employment opportunities.
Since we started Kenspeckle we have supported more than 20 people with training schemes, skills development, confidence and self-esteem, and we have established a high-quality confectionery company that is renowned in the local area. Trust in the North has increased its turnover from just over £41,000 in 2009 to more than £280,000 in 2010, and Kenspeckle has played a large part in this.
Whilst all this has been exceptionally positive, by the middle of 2011 we reached a stage where further development and investment was needed to grow Kenspeckle. Our success meant we started to receive more enquiries from larger companies wanting to stock Kenspeckle products and we didn’t have the capability to meet these orders. By being able to service these larger contracts, we could meet our aim of generating employment opportunities within the deprived area that we operate. However, we are facing various challenges.
Firstly, due to the success of the business, we spend much of our time making and selling the product and not enough time developing contacts. We need to establish and reinforce relationships between new and existing stockists to help us grow. Additionally, whilst we have an online presence, we have not used it to its full potential. Developing online content and an online community for the brand is an issue we need to address.
On a more practical level we operate our fudge kettle at capacity. To grow, we need to purchase an additional machine. We’d also like to be in a position to commission our own polycarbonate moulds to take our product offering to a different level and create exciting new moulds of iconic North East landmarks in chocolate form, such as Angel of the North.
When looking forward to the rest of 2012 our aims are ambitious but achievable. We’re confident that by December we will be able to generate three additional jobs within the Kenspeckle business. We will do this by utilising the latent catering skills in Lynemouth village and within the year we will aim to produce an annual surplus of £20,000 that will be provided to the Lynemouth Community Trust. We want to ensure that our sales leads are successfully converted, that our range of products increases, that our production and packaging becomes slicker and that we increase our capacity to manufacture our distinctive range of chocolate, fudge and honeycomb.
2012 is set to be a big year for Kenspeckle and Trust in the North. We aim to continue to support disadvantaged people in the area by offering employment opportunities whilst still providing a product that our community can be proud of. Building on our success over the last two years, we firmly believe that Kenspeckle can continue to be a significant company in the local community.