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Jeffrey’s Tonic is a Cheshire based business specialising in the production of non-alcoholic tonic syrups made from natural herbs and spices, with no artificial colours or flavours. The company was founded by husband and wife duo Mike and Maureen Robinson, after Mike received a recipe book one Christmas describing how to make gin and home-made tonic syrups. Mike immediately identified a gap in the UK market for tonic syrups and set to work creating various recipes. He soon realised the company would need bigger production facilities and professional support in order to be successful. After a local Environmental Health Officer recommended NoWFOOD at the University of Chester, Mike wasted no time in getting in touch with the team.

In April 2017, Mike moved his business to the University of Chester’s NoWFOOD Centre in order to produce tonic syrups on a larger scale. The Centre has a professional production kitchen with the latest equipment including: rational steam ovens, Thermomix and Robot Coupe food processors, a blast chiller, Hobart blenders, a vegetable preparation machine, water baths, vacuum sealers, a filling machine, a packaging machine and a walk-in cold room. There is also a dedicated team on-site to offer advice and business support.

Since being based at NoWFOOD, Mike has been able to take full advantage of a business support programme of which the University of Chester is a proud delivery partner. The Cheshire and Warrington Business Growth Programme aims to deliver 12 hours of fully funded support to local SMEs and entrepreneurs in order to facilitate growth. Having been signposted to the business growth programme by the NoWFOOD team, Mike has attended masterclasses offering advice on business start-up and strategy, business law and digital marketing. He has also received one-to-one support from members of the NoWFOOD team, who worked with him to establish a stable process to ensure his products are produced to a high standard. As a result of this, Jeffrey’s Tonic has now achieved a recognised food safety accreditation – SALSA (Safe and Local Supplier Approval). The team at NoWFOOD was instrumental in supporting Mike with achieving a first-time pass, with no corrective actions.

Mike explains: “A significant part of this operation has been the support I have received from NoWFOOD. I realised that I needed the equipment and resources to help take the business from a kitchen scale to the next level and the Centre Manager, Jeff George, and his team have been great. With its production kitchen, NoWFOOD has helped me refine and scale up the food production process. It’s not always been easy, and the journey has been trickier than I had expected, so to have that support has been extremely helpful.”

As a result of all the support received, Jeffrey’s Tonic has experienced substantial growth. In less than a year, Jeffrey’s Tonic has become a well-known supplier to local outlets, exhibited at the BBC Good Food Show in December 2017 and has been named as a food producer to watch in 2018 by the London Evening Standard.