Alassala Olives – PR Support
Leicester-based importer Azzelarab El Alaoui has become one of the first companies to bring a ‘magical’ oil - Argan oil - to the UK food and drink market, with support from The Food and Drink Forum.
Azzelarab El Alaoui, who runs Leicester-based Alassala Olives Ltd, aimed to be one of only a handful of importers currently selling Argan oil in the UK’s food sector.
He wanted to sell the oil, which is suitable for dipping, drizzling, on salads and for sweets and pastries, to delis, health stores and top restaurants.
A press release issued about Alassala Olives issued by The Food and Drink Forum achieved coverage in local media and was featured on national and international websites, helping to raise the profile of the product.
As a result, Azzelarab successfully launched Argan oil to the UK market in 2011 and began gaining small orders almost immediately.
Media coverage of his launch gave the product credibility and proved to be an excellent way of providing potential customers with more information about his company and the oil.
Royal Tea was the very first business to secure a unit at Leicester Food Park when it opened back in 2014. Its owner, Prakash Pandit, and Director, Dharmesh Pandit, explain how the park has helped grow the business.
Why the move to the UK?
We originally set up the enterprise in India. The tea came from India and it was cheaper to produce it there, so that worked well for us. However, what we found was that there’s a lot of red tape and bureaucracy as well as taxes in India and that caused us headaches.
By 2011, we had decided to leave India and move into the UK. The biggest difficulty we found was that when you have a manufacturing plant in the UK it is more expensive. We had grown the business based on cheaper production costs in India. We had to compromise something and the price to the consumer wasn’t an option, so we had to sacrifice our margin, but it was the right thing to do and the correct decision.
Why did you decide to move to Leicester Food Park?
The first thing we did when we switched operations to the UK was join the Food & Drink Forum, which was really positive for us as we needed to make sure everything we were doing was correct and compliant.
At our previous premises in the UK it was a real struggle. Our contact at the Food & Drink Forum suggested that it would be difficult for us to achieve what we wanted to achieve where we were. We learned that in two years’ time Leicester City Council was opening a dedicated food park and registered an interest.
The Food Park was a real upgrade on where we had been before.
What is it that sets Leicester Food Park apart?
The facilities are great. As well as our unit, we can use the board room for meetings and there’s onsite security too. We can also tap in to support from food and drink professionals.
To have somebody there to answer any questions is a real help and adds real value. It also gives more confidence to our customers. When customers see the facilities and see that you’re affiliated with the Food & Drink Forum and the East Midlands Chamber, it is good for reputation. Leicester Food Park also enables us to have more control; we can shape our own future. We can look to innovate with
flavours, enhance the packaging and ensure the product is of the highest quality and that’s a real advantage.
How effective is the Leicester Food Park model?
The challenge is to create more parks like this that are affordable for businesses as start-ups need low overheads in order to grow, because Leicester Food Park is brilliant and from a council perspective it is a great investment as it helps the region’s businesses grow and creates new jobs. It’s a perfect model.