The businessman behind Hartley Farm Shop and Café in Bradford-on-Avon has done the one-two, after being named Farmer’s Weekly Local Food Farmer of the Year and Best Farm Shop in the South West at the Taste of the West Awards in the same week.
Self-confessed foodie Tom Bowles has reinvented his family farming business, creating a local food and community hub with a £1m-plus turnover.
Tom studied economics at university, but eschewed an intended life in The City to return to the countryside, and his family’s 150-acre farm.
He started Hartley Farm Shop in 2008 with five staff. By 2014 he had a team of 35, had built a 70-seat cafe, and had developed space for other producers, including a small brewery, flower growers, and wood workers.
The business grew 25 percent last year, hitting a £1m turnover and six percent profit, and is forecast to turn over £1.2m this year with 10 percent profit.
About £190,000 has been invested so far, £70,000 of which was generated by the business.
Farmer’s Weekly judges were impressed by Tom’s commitment to creating a vibrant hyper-local economy, and by his commitment to the environment. They also praised his business acumen:
“Some of Tom’s greatest strengths are his awareness of himself as a manager and his keenness to learn. To this end he worked with a business coach and is now better able to delegate to his 30 staff.
“He has a positive approach to his employees and encourages them to lead projects. His solid management structure and sharing of data with his team means solutions and improvements are found together.
“Tom’s attention to business performance is clear in his monthly targets and detailed monitoring of transactions, average spend, margins and new and returning customers.
“A businessman of many talents, Tom has enabled a small family farm to thrive once again and bring his passion for food and farming to the local community.”
Tom said: “We are all extremely humbled at being named Local Food Farmer of the Year across the whole of Great Britain and Northern Ireland among some great competition. I would like to thanks my customers and staff for their support. “
Tom’s business coach, Nigel Scott, said: “”It’s great to see a Wiltshire business succeeding nationally. I’m proud to have been able to play a part in Tom’s success.”
The Taste of the West Awards were held at At-Bristol last Monday. The winners of the Farmer of the Year Awards were announced at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on Thursday.