Fast growing food firm has a taste for expansion



A leading restaurant and catering business is investing £250,000 on expansion in Redditch.


Moons Restaurants Ltd is seeing a surge in the business of preparing specialist ready meals for pubs, restaurants, hotels and catering outlets.


Now, with the help of commercial property agents John Truslove, it has taken an extra building on the Enfield Industrial Estate, Redditch, near to its existing premises at Unit 7.


Unit 8b will be used as a storage/stock room for finished products supplied to blue chip outlets up and down the country.


The 8,604 sq ft warehouse has been taken on a three year lease at a rent of £21,500 a year.


And, working with Truslove, the firm is also on the look-out for a third unit on the estate.


“We are working with Moons Restaurants to identify a further site,” said Mr Truslove.


“It is fantastic that they are doing so well and we are thrilled that we have been able to help them. They are a growth business and creating jobs.”


Moons Restaurants Ltd, owned by entrepreneurs Kevin Morel and Martyn Thomas, employs 240 people.


The retail arm has two restaurants in Stratford-upon-Avon and one each at Cheltenham and Tewksbury.


The catering division, Oliver James Foods, is one of Europe’s top food manufacturers of sous-vide products – slow cooking in airtight plastic bags in order to maintain the integrity and freshness of the ingredients – and high quality savoury pastry items, all for the food service and retail markets.


Dishes can be produced either chilled or frozen, individual or multi portion as required.


The sous-vide frozen side trades under the Oliver James brand with So Fresh for the chilled operation.


Meals go from the likes of lamb rump in a mint glaze and pork fore rib with orange and cinnamon sauce to chicken jalfrezi and cannelloni with spinach and goats cheese.


Edward Moon Proper Pies, based in Southam, range through steak and kidney to buttered chicken balti and smoked haddock and leek mornay.


Project manager Keith Palmer said: “This is not cook it, stick it in a bag and ship it out. These meals are prepared by chefs for other chefs to finish off.


“You will probably have eaten these meals and enjoyed them without ever realising they were not cooked on the premises.


“Our food is specialised in the way it is prepared. It is a much more efficient way of providing quality meals for the public.”


 Mr Palmer went on: “We are expanding simply because we are so busy. We are picking up new clients across the country.


“We produce tens of millions of products every year.”


Oliver James Foods was originally set up by chefs Mr Thomas and Mr Morel in 1989 under the name of Thomas Morel Foods.


The pair, with experience in three star Michelin restaurants, specialised in sous-vide, a technique pioneered by the Roux brothers, for whom they had worked previously.


They sold the company to Unilever in 1998, set up another business, Oliver James (after their respective sons), and bought back the original company, now trading as Oliver James Foods, in 2004.