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Question and Answer History of HB Ingredients.


•  Where did the name ‘Henley Bridge' come from? Nothing to do with Henley on Thames, just a hamlet in East Sussex near where I lived. It is hard to think of a company name when you have to, it had to include ‘Ingredients', because that is what we do, and I couldn't use my surname really........... In 2001 we shortened the name to HB Ingredients, as we are now known.

•  Why start an Ingredients Company? Tony had always worked in the Food Ingredients business since 1972, selling Glucose, Modified & Native Starches, Callebaut Chocolate and finally as Sales & Marketing Director for Tate & Lyle. All large food manufacturers at that time were inward looking and focusing on reducing costs, reducing headcount and operational complexity while increasing efficiency with new systems. As a result, many small/medium companies were finding it hard to source ingredients in realistic quantities at competitive prices as they could not buy product directly from the manufacturer. The big were getting bigger while smaller companies were finding it harder & harder to grow.

•  The first 4 years? One man band (then plus dog and wife Kath), working from home and delivering to local customers on an ex Courage Brewery 7.5t curtainsider. Mainly supplying Glucose, Organic Cereal Syrups, Sugars & Mallows with modest amounts of Chocolate.

•  Expansion? Carl came into the company in May 2002, bringing his market knowledge and logistics experience, when we started renting a warehouse unit on a turkey farm in which we built a ‘cosy' office for 3, Tony & Carl on sales, buying, warehouse, delivering etc and Kath on Accounts. This meant we could serve small customers more efficiently by consolidating mixed pallets which opened up more potential business. At the time Ingredients' companies were still reducing stock levels and lead times were getting longer (also ‘press 3 for sales' was prevalent), and actual Industry customer service levels and supplier accessibility was probably at it's worst. So against the grain and throwing away the rule book, we started holding stock of all products our customers were ordering and our next day service level philosophy started. An accountant's nightmare!

•  Growth? This ‘magic' formula of treating people as we wanted to be treated, paid dividends as our customer base and product range expanded. We recruited our first employee – Andy,(who runs the warehouse to this day) and moved into a portakabin [that's another story] and larger warehouse on the farm in 2004. Our Buyer, Sue, joined us soon afterwards from Merrydown as more suppliers were added either with us as sole UK representatives or as Distributors. By mid 2006 sales had increased five-fold and we simply ran out of space - so we moved to our current premises In Uckfield.

•  And now? Two years on, we have taken extra storage space here as we have increased annual turnover by £2m to £5m pa. We have been very lucky with the people we have recruited and have a great ‘HB team', who are all focused on our customers and ensuring that we meet their needs to the letter. We seek perfection, and hopefully achieve it most of the time, although inevitably we have the occasional Homer Simpson moments!

• The Future? New Exchequer and CRM system to help us to ‘be better' and more accurate in stock policy, order entry, product picking, despatch & invoicing. BRC and other certification to ensure your confidence in our standards, Employee training with Product and Application knowledge, IT/personal skills, the Website & Newsletter to aid communication, - and above all, staying true to our core values!


HB Ingredients
Cocoa House, 22 Bell Lane,Bellbrook Industrial Estate, Uckfield East Sussex. TN22 1QL.
Tel:+44(0)845 88 00 799 Fax:+44(0)845 88 00 833
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