>>persistence pays off

Who says the food industry isn’t concerned about healthy eating? Doug Struthers, founding director of Frumba, certainly is.

Since he set up the company four years ago, Struthers has been pursuing listings with the multiples with determination and singlemindedness.

His work has been a resounding success. The company’s 50g Frum’boost fruit bars with natural ingredients including vitamins and herbal tonics, have won listings at Tesco, Sainsbury and, most recently, Waitrose.

So what effort has Struthers pumped into the business to take it from the brink of failure to its current heights? “The bulk of our time is occupied with sales meetings face-to-face and on the phone,” he says. “Another major focus is exports, with Sweden our biggest customer.

“I also spend a lot of time listening to people’s responses, consulting with focus groups and trade buyers.”

Last week’s highlights include sampling work with a field sales team selling to the catering sector and then on to visit a vending company to discuss listings.

Struthers has also been finalising the operational
details of a contract with Palmer & Harvey McLane. He says the move could prove to be the company’s biggest coup, increasing its £1.5m annual sales by up to 20%.

But despite his achievements, he says his progress is sometimes frustrating: “The hardest thing is ignorance. Retailers say they don’t care how good our bar is, they don’t need it, when they don’t even know what it is.”

Another problem he faces is getting hold of the right people in buying departments at the right moment, when their time is limited.

He says the most important quality for success is staying power: “One of our biggest breakthroughs was a nine month listing at Waitrose.

“I initially thought we got this through luck, but on reflection it was persistence. If they told us to call back in two months, we called back in five to six weeks time.”
healthy concerns see success for fruit bar