Hobnobbing with Elisabeth Och of Hay Hampers

posted by 5 years ago in Hobnobbing
Gabriele & Elisabeth

How did the idea for the business come about?

In the early 80s we were a husband and wife wine retailer with a small shop serving the Midlands with fine wines that we sourced from vineyards around Europe. From there a seed started that the only thing that makes wine better is… food! And the only thing that makes food and wine better is… receiving it at your door as a surprise gift.

Nowadays, Hay Hampers is still a family-run business but with a new ownership. After a career as top managers, Gabriele and I made a lifestyle choice in 2014, taking over the company to work together and spend more time with our family.

When was the company first established?

We established as Hay Hampers Ltd in 1984. A little known fact is that the company name came from the name of a much loved Aunt, most assume it is from the ‘hay’ (actually woodwool) filling in the hampers but this is just a happy coincidence!

How is the business doing?

Fantastically! We have invested a great deal in sourcing artisan gourmet products hand-made in small batches in the UK and abroad. We have introduced new skills into our organization such as marketing, web development and art direction. We have moved to bigger and more efficient premises. The results are a tripling in turnover over the last three years! We were recently nominated for Family Business of 2017 in the Growing Business Awards – a massive honour and great cause for celebration!

 Since the company began, what has been the biggest challenge?

Our greatest challenge is the very large increase in demand for hampers at Christmas and how we manage this peak in production. Even though we have made great progress in increasing our year around sales, Christmas still remains the key time for hampers. Dealing with this challenge gets harder every year especially given our exceptional rate of growth.

What makes you stand out from your competitors?

We really love food! It is our passion and we continually strive to seek out authentic, delicious and artisan products to include in our hampers, based on taste and their provenance rather than whether the colour of their packaging fits in with the rest of the items! As a family business we aim to seek out food and wine items from similar businesses, and we love that this often means we are bringing great taste experiences to the mouths of those that otherwise would not be able to find them in the shops, nor even more in supermarkets.

What’s been your best business decision?

Well, taking over Hay Hampers! We realized that there was a great potential in the company and facts are proving it now.

What is next for Hay Hampers?

A busy time! With continued investment in our space and systems; seeking out new partnerships and markets; and hunting out more delicious items on our gastronomic journeys and creating new exciting gifts. We wish to become the gourmet specialist in the gift hamper industry.

If you could help one business now with a single piece of advice, what would it be?

Work hard, embrace changes in the market and be true to your brand values at all times.

Finally, what is your favourite biscuit?

Well that is an easy one, our Italian Amaretto biscuits from Nonna Jole that features in many of our hampers. They are hand-made from almond and egg white in a small bakery in Tuscany and they are beautifully moist and moreish!