Winning a Tesco listing has transformed Westcountry Smokehouses from a small business run by two brothers into a national supplier, says director Edward Obolensky My father Andrew started the business as a hobby. He processed mackerel from the English Channel and for 25 years ran a small specification smokehouse that developed a strong reputation in Devon and in London. Most of the sales were through delis, farm shops and catering outlets, but we knew the products were very good so decided to invest in the factory. We started the retail side in four small Asdas that were strong on local produce, but we wanted to go for something bigger. Tesco held a local sourcing initiative in the West Country last year so we researched its range and saw store managers to offer to fill the gaps. They passed our details back to HQ and in October last year we began to supply smoked fish to branches nationally. It involved transforming the whole operation, but it has made the business grow in every direction. We invested in a 25,000 sq ft factory in Dartmouth and quadrupled output. The annual turnover of our two companies - Dartmouth Smokehouse and Cornish Smoked Fish company - is about £5m but we’re still only running at 30% of potential capacity. Our core lines are smoked salmon, mackerel and kippers, with smoked chicken and duck increasingly popular. My brother Nick likes to try smoking quirky things, and when we smoked a batch of vegetables as a trial, the cherry tomatoes were delicious. We have spent two and a half years developing them and now have a product with a lot of potential. We are also looking at a few smoked fruits, and the results with pears and apples have been very good, while our smoked prawns in pint pots sell fabulously well down here in pubs. Sourcing the best raw materials is the key to a good product. Line-caught mackerel are much leaner and lighter in oil content than net-caught, and smoke much better. We also use Freedom Foods salmon, being careful to choose the right size of fish. We sell our brand of award-winning Dartmouth Smokehouse products in delis, farm shops, restaurants such as the Ivy and the Fat Duck at Bray, and also by mail. In Tesco we supply its Finest lines, which is going well with plenty of repeat purchases. In time, we’d like to get our own brand in the multiples, because the potential is huge. And we are trying to pioneer smoked products that are low in salt without altering the taste, because mackerel has all the right fats to be very healthy.