Connecting directly with its customers, maintaining family values and a return to traditional farm gate retailing is how one PKF Francis Clark client has weathered some difficult times.
Trevaskis Farm is a farm experience for all the family. Its rural location conceals the fact that it is handily placed only minutes from the A30 at Camborne but it’s where its customers come to eat, shop, pick their own, meet the animals and learn about food. The watchwords are “countryside and produce all in one place” and food provenance is everything.
The Eustice family have a farming pedigree in the area that stretches back four centuries but was never plain sailing. In the early 1980’s Paul Eustice decided to take a different farming route and after one too many unsuccessful vegetable crops, he started growing fruit. He pioneered ‘Pick Your Own’ inviting the public on to Trevaskis to pick his strawberries, raspberries and gooseberries.
The hard times meant losing much of the land the family had traditionally farmed but the business began to grow through the 1990s with more bush fruits and vegetable crops and more of the public visiting the farm to pick their own and enjoy buying at the farm gate.
Paul’s wife Adele introduced a modest tea room to serve the farm visitors with home baked meals but it soon gained a big reputation and has become part of the business’ core operation.
In 2004, Paul and Adele’s son Giles returned from a career in IT to take up his position in the family business. While remaining true to his parents' roots and beliefs, he started looking at different directions for Trevaskis and expanding on the already successful business they had created.
Giles said: “It was a bit of a culture shock at first. One moment I was in a suit leading business meetings in California, the next I was dealing in cauliflowers and raspberries. Nevertheless, I could see we had a good business with potential. We had an appetite to invest and we had hit upon a winning formula - supplying the public directly with high quality, affordable produce with a cast iron provenance.”
The formula worked and provided significant growth for the business. In 2006, the restaurant was extended and can now accommodate 180-200 covers for people who still enjoy wholesome home cooked food. Two years later Giles upgraded the Trevaskis Farm Shop with the uncompromising quality of a farmer’s market and prioritising homegrown, home-reared and ethically sourced/fair trade including fruit and vegetables, butchery, fishmongers, deli and more, all under one roof and much of it produced on site.
Giles said: “We are offering a complete farm experience. Families can have a full day out picking from over 100 fruit and vegetable crops. They can meet an array of animals, eat well in our licenced restaurant, which is open seven days week and do their weekly shopping. We are now seeing some of our original pick-your-own families return to enjoy the experience with their grandchildren.
“Our prices are affordable and we work hard to compete with the supermarkets. People shop here for the items they care about and then will often go to the supermarket for household items that are not so important to them.”
Trevaskis Farm also connects to local people through its programme of educational visits which can see up to 4,000 school children visit the farm each year to learn about crops, livestock and food provenance. Bespoke farm tours support the National Curriculum and there are regular outreach school visits by Trevaskis chefs.
“We would like to think our educational programme and our farm gate retailing”, said Giles, “has played its part in the general awareness of food provenance and has helped as families have moved away from pre-prepared produce and meals.”
Back in 2004, Trevaskis Farm had an annual turnover of around £350K. Forecasted turnover for 2017 is closer to £4m. Today the business employs some 80 staff and enjoys high levels of staff retention.
Trevaskis Farm has been advised by PKF Francis Clark for 13 years with the team being headed up by partner Scott Bentley and supported by corporate finance director Richard Wadman.
Scott Bentley said: “The Eustice family have created a splendid business by sticking to their traditional family values and by recognising what the buying public now want from their food purchases. They represent exactly the sort of family business that is at the heart of our client base. Giles never stands still and is constantly looking at ways to improve and grow the business which makes this a fun and interesting business to advise.
“For many years we assisted the business with personal tax returns whilst it was still a partnership and some time ago we assisted the partnership with grant funding to grow the business.
“More recently we advised on the incorporation of the business to facilitate further investment into the business and family succession. As part of this we accessed the Growth Accelerator for coaching funding as part of the project. I am looking forward to assisting Giles and the rest of the family with the next phase of growth.”
Giles Eustice added: “In the early days after my return to Trevaskis, financial advice was crucial – as profitability has increased, this has remained the case so I am delighted with the working relationship we have developed with Scott and Richard at PKF Francis Clark.
“Our next steps will be to continue building the brand while staying true to the course we have set ourselves. We are currently investing in a wave of new technology throughout the business, from smart booking systems through to operational process and time management software. This investment in new systems will help secure our growth and help us develop as opportunities arise.
“I have no doubt that the team from PKF Francis Clark will be playing a significant role in the future.”