A PIE producer is looking to expand after enjoying a boost in orders - despite having lost its main source of trade in lockdown.

The York Pie Company has secured a grant from the Manufacturing Growth Programme to invest in more equipment to grow the retail side of the business.

It previously supplied to pubs in York and further afield, as well as cafes, butchers and chilled distribution companies, until coronavirus restrictions closed down social venues.

Darren Wiseman, who runs the Poppleton-based business with Beverley Pawson, said the 'shop local' trend had led small businesses to place more orders, meaning they were busier than ever.

"The majority of our business, 40 per cent, was pubs. We still will when we come out of it but in lockdown they shut. Other businesses got busier so we ended up doing more trade with fewer customers, like butchers and cafes when they started ordering more.

"We started doing online orders and home deliveries that increased our retail business. We had never really bothered with it in the past but we got busier in lockdown. It allowed us to grow, take on an extra member of staff and and look at new markets.

"We seemed to be delivering to only 60 per cent of our customers but doing 120 per cent turnover at times. I am very optimistic about the future. We are looking at bigger ovens to upscale the operation."

The company's range includes its best-selling pork and steak pies, gourmet offerings with black pudding and chorizo, as well as commissions such as pies made with a specified ale or pie wedding tiers. Darren said their new meat-free pies was a potential growth area.

"There's some good assistance for manufacturing. We are going to use this as a springboard to grow. We are hoping to expand the wholesale side from just local to chilled and frozen, nationwide, target bigger customers and possibly look at entering the Great Taste Awards."

Darren said he received 'fantastic support' from Louise Saw, business growth manager at Make It York. "Louise put us in touch with organisations that can give us lots of help. It it not just about getting the grant; it is about identifying the roles we might create and help us deliver the strategy for how to tie this all together."

Louise said: "It’s great we can support Darren with his business aspirations and not only connect him to a grant but also strategic support which will aid his business growth.

"There’s lots of support and funding available to help business prosper and thrive. Business growth managers at Make It York can help you to navigate the support maze and connect you with the right skills, people and funding.

"The business team at Make It York will work with you to understand your specific challenges and help you plan for survival and growth, drawing on in-depth knowledge and connections across all sectors of the local professional community."

For more information about support to help grow your business, email business@makeityork.com