There’s never been a better time to bring your diversification vision to life

Leanda Hoyland-Linch

April 15, 2022

During challenging times for traditional farming and with sustainability and de-carbonising high on the agenda, more and more UK entrepreneurial landowners are looking at alternative ways to generate extra revenue streams.

Of potential courses of action suggested by the NFU, diversification is an option over two thirds of UK farms have taken up, according to DEFRA, and over 90% of those claim their diversification has been financially successful. During the next few years of transition from the Common Agricultural Policy, remaining direct farm payments can be used to invest in a diversification project so now is a good time to plan ahead.

The benefits of diversification are many; future-proofing the business for succession, reducing social isolation, showcasing British produce through shops, hospitality and recreation whilst reducing the carbon footprint and supporting rural economies through the creation of employment opportunities.

How do you know if diversification is right for your business? Apart from ensuring the resilience of the core business, thorough research and planning are key. Appetite Me have the expertise and experience to create, plan and implement a full scope of rural development and diversification projects. The company work with a broad range of clients including estate owners, farmers and garden centres to convert their rural space or building into a high-end retail or hospitality operation; from beautiful, artisan food halls and farm shops to impressive restaurants or cafés.

To ensure the future success of your diversification project, Appetite Me will undertake an in-depth feasibility study to determine its potential. This covers everything from existing resources, supply and demand, competition, location and socio-economic demographics to navigating planning applications, financial projections and staffing.

So, when you have taken the decision to turn that diversification dream into reality, what’s next? You could go it alone, or work with a team of experts who accelerate your profits while you concentrate on your core business.

The Appetite Me team includes professional retail consultants, designers and project managers who have worked in this specialist field for many years on countless successful projects. The company bring their client’s visions to life, not only with creative flair and attention to detail, but with practical, profitable solutions.

Whether launching a new venture, or reworking an established one, Appetite Me guide their clients through the whole process, offering a unique service from innovative ergonomic design, sourcing artisan food and drink ranges, to recruiting and training high quality staff. The in-house creative team of graphic, digital and 3D designers will deliver and apply a memorable brand identity across the spectrum from environmental graphics to menus, aprons to till receipts. Appetite Me also create incredible bespoke own brand products that their clients’ customers will keep coming back for. Behind any successful project is a strong marketing and PR strategy; the Appetite Me team will work with you to launch your project into the spotlight, advising on everything from events and connecting with local and regional press to effective use of social media. The delivery of a diversification project is only the start as Appetite Me will continue to offer support for as long as required.

Appetite Me have an impressive portfolio of clients acquired over 20 years, from farm shops, restaurants and garden centres to high-end retail villages on country estates.

Recent projects include Vine House Farm, near Spalding in Lincolnshire - an award-winning arable farm with a strong ethos for wildlife conservation. Owned by same family since 1964, a highly successful bird seed business runs alongside a large arable operation.

A farm shop located within the main yard had existed for many years, however, with the growth of the arable and bird seed business came the need to expand the farm shop offer to meet increased demand. After considerable research and securing funding for the project from RDPE, the decision was taken to relocate to a new site adjacent to the A1174. Relocation gave the opportunity to expand the business while further developing the family’s passion for wildlife conservation.
Appetite Me worked with architects on the internal design, layout and look and feel of the café and farm shop, identifying and maximising retail space. The shop-fit was specified, sourced and installed by Appetite Me’s designers while they also managed the recruitment process of additional staff for senior roles.

Vine House Farm Shop & Cafe opened last Summer after an 18-month build. It includes a 70-cover café with additional outdoor seating overlooking the new wildlife garden and pond. Aligning with the owner’s ethos on conservation and sustainability, the structure’s roof incorporates solar panels.
The shop features a wide range of wildlife food and accessories as well as an extensive artisan food offer including organic produce grown on the farm. The award-winning Grasmere butchery concession, identified and engaged by Appetite Me, adds considerable value to the whole retail offer whilst Appetite Me’s food buyers ranged locally sourced produce to complement existing lines and continue to give buying support.

Despite opening during the pandemic, there has been a significant upturn in revenue with new sales generated from the café and butchery.

Owner, Lucy Taylor said, “Appetite Me were instrumental in our new farm shop and café hitting the ground running. Their support and knowledge in layout design, key personnel recruitment and product merchandising were all invaluable at such a key time. Since the launch the farm shop and café have gone from strength to strength.”

Whatever diversification venture you are considering, Appetite Me will work closely with you through every stage of the development. From initial enquiry, concept of ideas through to delivery and beyond, the team will ensure the project runs efficiently and to the highest standard, revitalising rural locations, re-investing in the economy and adding value to existing businesses.