Breezes enjoys fair wind of success thanks to Southampton’s MHL

A Hampshire businesswoman who set up a thriving cafe with a £1,000 government grant has praised the value of ongoing help from consultancy MHL.

Breezes, a nautical-themed cafe, bistro, deli and gift shop overlooking the coastal village of Hill Head near Fareham, has created 12 jobs and attracted 30 local suppliers for menu ingredients.

Occupying 3,000 sq ft on two floors, the business also sells paintings and landscape photography by Solent artists, both in the cafe and online.

Now a going concern with a freehold valued at a six-figure sum, Breezes has carved out a niche as a friendly, popular destination for diners, art lovers and local surfers.

Owner Maria Lewis says much of the success is down to dedicated help and mentoring from Southampton-based MHL, run by City-style business consultant Sue Warden-Owen.

Mrs Lewis, who previously ran a scuba diving training business in Southampton, said: “Sue has enabled me to fulfil my goal of establishing a dream eaterie with local suppliers that is an asset to the community. She brings a no-nonsense approach based on rigorous attention to detail across all management disciplines. Thanks to her, I have gained the confidence to really grow the business.”

Breezes was opened in August 2009 following a £1,000 ‘leadership and management’ grant from the now defunct Skills South East government agency.

Mrs Warden-Owen said: “Since then, Maria and her team have been highly receptive to advice and support, incrementally developing the physical cafe and the online business. It has been a joy to be part of this success story.”

As well as a City background focusing mainly on mergers and acquisition, Mrs Warden-Owen has industry experience of running multi-million pound marketing budgets and providing PR services to blue-chip clients.