26 June 2013

How fledgling business expanded with Bizspace

The founder of a British charcuterie firm has told how Bizspace helped him on the road to success.

Cannon and Cannon supplies some of Britain’s best restaurants and food shops and has its own shop and restaurant in Brixton. Sean Cannon, who founded Cannon and Cannon with his brother Joe, said the unit at our Camberwell Business Centre had given him the freedom to expand from a start-up business to a successful company which employs 14 people.

How their business idea was formed

The brothers, who were brought up on a smallholding in North Norfolk which kept chickens and pigs, first started taking an interest in charcuterie back in 2010. At the time, Sean was working as a social worker while Joe was – and still is – a barrister.

The pair started by selling cheese and condiments at farmers’ markets on Saturday mornings. It was while they were doing this that they discovered Suffolk salami.

Sean says: “We didn’t realise salami was being produced here in the UK and we wanted to find out more. We discovered a disparate band of charcutiers in Britain. They were doing all the work themselves.

“We spoke to them about what we could do for them and they all said they would like to be able to do what they do best and we could do some of the selling and distribution for them. We put together a list of what we believed to be the very best of British cured meats and started contacting restaurants.”

Juggling two jobs

He says: “It was hard. We were working long hours at work and then getting up at 5am to do farmers’ markets all over Norfolk and London. But at the same time it was completely joyous and the beginning of a dream to get out of our office jobs and start working with food.

“By the time we were supplying 20 restaurants, we realised we had a business here and we needed to go to London where the demand was.”

Sean managed to secure a stall in Borough Market, London’s most popular food market, which gave him the confidence to quit his job as a social worker.

He explains: “It allowed me to make the decision to jump ship to become a full-time sausage seller. It was a difficult time for social services. I was a youth worker and all the projects were being cut due to budget cutbacks. Quite a lot of people left at a similar time to me.”

The Borough Market stall started trading at the end of November 2011 and then in June 2012, Cannon and Cannon opened its shop in Brixton, which now includes a restaurant as well. The business is also about to open a market stall in Southbank and an online shop.

When Cannon and Cannon first started out in Borough Market, Sean was using a storage cupboard in a friend’s office to store the salami and cured meats.

Bizspace provided the ideal solution

Sean continues: “We were a very small business and we needed a cheap solution. We needed somewhere flexible, with good access where we didn’t have to sign a long lease. Bizspace was perfect for our needs and we moved in to the unit about 14 months ago.

“We have been supplying London’s best and most famous restaurants from Camberwell.”

The business is about to move into its own 1,000 sq ft bespoke unit at London’s popular Borough Market, but he thanked Anna Henderson, Business Centre Manager at Camberwell, for all her help.

“Anna has gone above and beyond the call of duty to help us as a start-up business on so many occasions. At first I was only in the unit one day a week and I was really stretched. Anna was taking all our deliveries and really helping us out,” he says.

“In the time we have been at Camberwell, we have gone from being a one-man-band to employing 14 people. Bizspace has been brilliant for giving us the freedom to grow.”

Our Camberwell Business Centre includes industrial unitsoffices, and workshops. A converted Victorian house and former bakery, the business centre is arranged around a courtyard with 68 business units ranging from 85 to 810 square feet.

If you are a Bizspace customer with an inspiring story to tell, please get in touch.