Opinion: The commercial kitchen conundrum

By Paul Caunce, Publishing Editor, North West Food & Drink Means Business

One of the most common topics of discussion among our food and drink producer network is that of scaling up their businesses.

One of the big considerations for scale-up is kitchen space. Working from a home kitchen has its advantages, not least that it costs nothing! At some point however, as ambitions grow, the home kitchen is likely to become too small, both in terms of production area and storage space.

For those that decide enough is enough and who need a more professional environment, there lies another problem. To lease long term, rent on a flexible basis, or maybe event share.

Tying a business into a long-term lease is often a huge step, and risky, but if the circumstances are right, it is an exciting one.

Sharing a space is very possible, but has many considerations, not least in the area of food safety and allergen control.

For most, an ideal solution would be renting space in a commercial kitchen, either on a pay by use basis or a flexible month to month agreement. Low risk and big benefits in terms of extra space and a more professional environment.

At FDMB, we have been shocked and disappointed as to how few of these places actually exist.

There are some excellent facilities out there, such as the NoWFOOD Centre in Chester (pictured above), which has an incubation scheme and the excellent development kitchen at R Noone & Son in Stockport. There are others of course, such as at Blackpool and Fylde College and Myerscough College, but given the demand for such facilities, they are actually few and far between.

We are of course mere Publishers, not Property Developers, however, if we were, we can think of no better enterprise than affordable and flexible commercial kitchen space for growing food and drink producers in the North West.

The rental demand is certainly there from producers, which begs the question as to why there are so few facilities around?

It is certainly food for thought for any property developers, building owners or even farmers out there who are looking for a building project with a point of difference and a ready and waiting list of potential tenants.

We await developments in more ways than one.

Photo Credit – James Randolph  www.infinityimagesbyjr.co.uk