Ex-Spar chief Jerry Marwood is chairing a new company that is hoping to rebuild the collapsed delivered frozen food business Eismann UK - using a new business model.
Eskimo Frozen Foods, which has been trading for six weeks, is based at Eismann UK’s former Bedford head office, but is an entirely new company.
MD Ian Matthews insisted it had learned from Eismann UK’s mistakes and would not follow it into administration. It had changed the business model from franchises to direct employed driver deliveries from one depot, he said. Where Eismann UK had allowed franchisees to collect payment from customers - and was owed £900,000 by franchisees when it collapsed in January - Eskimo would take payment directly online or through telesales. Dealing directly with suppliers and customers allowed it to offer prices on average 15% lower than Eismann UK’s, he added.
The response to local mailshots had been “colossal”, he claimed, adding that turnover had grown 50% every week since Eskimo began trading.
“When you do a mailshot you usually expect 2% to 3% of people to come back to you, but we’re getting 30%,” he said.
Eskimo also planned to open a second depot in Reigate, Surrey, in January, to serve the London and the South East. “London is one of the biggest home delivery markets and Eismann didn’t serve it,” Matthews said.
Further depots planned would allow it to expand deliveries nationally next year, he added.
Eskimo is funded by private investment from six people with food retail experience - including Matthews, operations director Bill Asling and Marwood, who will spend a few days each month at Eskimo as chairman.
Eskimo plans to offer a core range of premium products, supported by a variety of basic products. Although suppliers are predominantly from the UK, Eskimo also has an agreement to distribute lines such as frozen yoghurts from Eismann Germany.