Britain may be the spiritual home of the pie, but in 2003 most pie shops were old-fashioned and dowdy, their food uninspiring. Jon Simon and Tristan Hogg, two entrepreneurs (and brothers-in-law) decided to change that. Some 10 years on and their company, Pieminister, has nine shops, including one in Amsterdam, and sells its award-winning pies to pubs, delis, farmers’ markets and supermarkets as well as at festivals and events throughout the country.
Co-Founder Jon Simon explains: "Tristan and I have a passion for food and with him being a chef and my background in pubs, we saw there was a huge gap in the market for high quality pies. Our goal was to make the pies the best they could be. From the beginning, we used only free-range meats and sourced as many ingredients as possible from farms near Bristol.
"Do something you love, because you are going to be immersed in it"
Jon Simon, Co-Founder, Pieminister
"At the time, the BSE and foot and mouth scandals were fresh in people’s minds, and chefs like Jamie Oliver were starting to talk about provenance and quality local ingredients, so the Pieminister philosophy caught our customers’ imaginations. We have used the same ethos in the way we deal with our people and our suppliers. We now employ around 150 people, and on Pie Day Friday everyone eats lunch together with a Pieminister pie.
"All the different parts of the business complement each other. If someone discovers us at Glastonbury, they can go into a Waitrose or a farmers’ market and buy a pie. Because of that, we see lots of scope for growth in the business.
Pieminister has grown from a small firm to a business that employs around 150 people
"Opening shops across the UK has sometimes been harder than we had hoped. Business rates are huge, which makes a lot of sites completely unviable. There is a real disconnect – councils are trying to make up for lots of empty shops by charging far more for the few that remain open.
"My advice to anyone starting out is to do something you love, because you are going to be immersed in it. Aim to be the best you can be and make sure you offer something new that is better than what your competitors sell."
Region: SW England
Sector: Food & Beverage