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John Lewis deal provides sweet success for Miss Macaroon

John Lewis Rosie (L)A pioneering Birmingham social enterprise has capped a record year by sealing a deal to sell its products in John Lewis’ new flagship store in the City.

Miss Macaroon gift bags of French macaroons went on sale this week in the ‘Place to Eat’ eatery after founder Rosie Ginday impressed the retailer with the quality, taste and presentation of her colourful biscuits.

Buyers were also impressed with the organisation’s commitment to training and offering employment to young people that may have slipped out of education or have found themselves in the care system or homeless.

The former Patisserie chef is hoping that this contract – combined with the new branding launch – will help it build on 43% growth in sales this year and see turnover smash £200,000 for the first time.

“Grand Central is such big news for Birmingham and it’s fantastic that a little social enterprise is now selling its macaroons in John Lewis,” explained Rosie, who set the business up with £500 of her own money.

“We had fantastic support from Andy Street, who has been working with us through his role at the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP. He definitely opened some doors for us and then I was supported by Paul Brown and the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses programme to pursue the opportunity.”

She continued: “Once the introduction was made it was then down to us to convince the buyers that we had the quality, presentation and ability to supply the volumes they wanted. We also had to pass their food audit, which we did with flying colours!”
Miss Macaroon is one of Birmingham’s brightest social enterprise success stories, having started with free use of the world class pastry kitchens at University College Birmingham and a passion to help young people in 2011.

Under Rosie’s enthusiasm and drive, the business has invested in its own dedicated kitchen in Hockley where it hand pipes, bakes and hand fills 5000 macaroons every day. All of its products are gluten free and, over the course of the year, there will be up to 40 flavours, with baileys and nutmeg to be introduced in time for Christmas.

In addition to the John Lewis deal, Miss Macaroon has also secured a number of high profile clients thanks to its ability to pantone match colours and personalise the macaroons with logos. Virgin and designer Karl Lagerfield have already taken advantage of this unique service.

“Boosting sales means I can extend our ‘Macaroons that Make a Difference’ programme, which is a four-week training course on basic pastry production, employability skills and social development,” continued Rosie.

“Young, long-term unemployed people are supported to create a five-year plan of manageable goals that will help them gain employment. This is followed by three months of one-to-one mentoring and work experience where participants can earn interviews and gain paid employment with my business.

“20 people have already progressed through our scheme and – for the first time ever – I’ve been able to take on an apprentice to work with us. I’m hoping that the more we grow, the more opportunities I will have to extend this programme.”

Paul Brown, Board member of the Black Country LEP, added his support: “I have been a big supporter of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses programme run by Aston Business School.

“Social Enterprises add tremendous value to the region’s economy and ‘Miss Macaroon’ is an example of a real entrepreneurial spirit that produces first class products. If my help provided an introduction to John Lewis, and importantly they like her products, then that’s great to hear.”

Rosie is looking to celebrate her 5th anniversary in 2016 by targeting more wholesale deals and extending the firm’s corporate orders pantone match macaroons – the only patisserie in the world to offer this service.

Professor Mark Hart, academic lead and Programme Director for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses programme, concluded:

“This is a real achievement for Rosie and ‘Miss Macaroon’ to be forging ahead with a major retailer like John Lewis – a genuine success story for small businesses and social enterprise in the Midlands. It is deeply satisfying to see another of our programme participants deliver additional jobs and household incomes for local communities in the region.”