We spoke to Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones MBE, founder of national brand ‘The Black Farmer’, to hear about the farming company’s growth and success and exciting future developments following its move into Swindon and Wiltshire.
What made you decide to locate in the region?
“After starting the business in Devon in 1999, we wanted to take The Black Farmer business to an area that champions rural Britain and aligns with what our brand stands for.
“We decided on Chippenham. So, after liaising with Swindon and Wiltshire inward investment teams, they recommended many areas in the region that would be good for us and provided excellent help and support with the applications of grants and loans.
“The area’s location was also important to us due to the close proximity to the M4, enabling easy access to Swindon, Bristol, Bath and London, which is extremely beneficial when building a fulfilment centre. Along with being logistically convenient, the great amount of countryside was also important, and therefore we moved to Chippenham in May 2021.”
Tell us about your workforce.
“We are very active in recruiting locally, with the workforce in our current fulfilment centre in Chippenham being entirely local.
“Customer service is extremely important for us and the brand, along with local individuals who love the region.
“Apart from those working on our farms and in fulfilment centres, the majority of our workforce is virtual, and we are embracing new technology and working methods as we expand.
“We also work very hard to give opportunities to young people and those wanting to embark on a career in farming. We have The Black Farmer scholarship scheme, which is an incubator scheme for start-ups and embraces the support from the Swindon and Wiltshire Growth Hub, which is helping us connect with local universities and local workforce.”
What assistance and support did you receive when you came here?
“Since moving into the region, we’ve had a lot of support from Wiltshire Council and the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership.
“The Swindon and Wiltshire LEP provided a capital loan through its Growing Places Infrastructure Fund to help support our move to the area, as our company growth plans matched the criteria of their local industrial strategy to support job creation.
“Along with the initial support on location, capital loan, and local workforce opportunities, they are still very active in engaging with us to help and support any future expansion or business developments.”
How has the business grown since you came to Swindon and Wiltshire?
“As we have only recently moved into the area, we are currently in the first stages of expansion here. Our fulfilment centre was the first stage. The next development will be building a centre, which will facilitate a farm shop, events venue, restaurant, and conference centre.”
What has surprised you since you came here?
“What surprised me is that it’s an undiscovered area. It is one of those places that tends to get overlooked, but there is a lot of variety and a wide number of opportunities here in Wiltshire. And the support available in the region has been hugely helpful”.