From Serbia with love - Chipping Sodbury businesswoman wins top award for her Granny's Secret
A CHIPPING Sodbury-based businesswoman has scooped a national award less than a year after starting her Serbian-import company.
Snezana Knowles swapped designing plane parts to concentrate her energies on bringing the delicious delicacies of her home country to the UK.
A former Airbus engineer, Snezana gave up her job after a visit to Serbia in the summer of 2011 when she found her tastebuds unsatisfied on her return to the UK. After building up her business, she launched Granny’s Secret in January becoming the first company in Britain to imports handmade juices, relished and fruit preserves from Serbia.
Snezana, who moved to the UK in 1989, has seen her products stocked in a huge variety of places from local delicatessens to top London eateries.
In recognition of her dedication to make and keep new customers, she beat hundreds of other entrants to scoop a finalist honour in the Best New Business category at the National Entrepreneur Awards in Birmingham.
The awards were part of the two day National Entrepreneur’s Convention, organised by Nigel Botterill’s Entrepreneur’s Circle.
“When I returned to England after my holiday, I complained to my husband that it was difficult to find in the UK, the traditional recipes that I had enjoyed for many years at home,” said the mother-of-three. “His response was to go and do something about it, so I did.
“After sourcing manufacturers and distributors in Serbia, I started to get out there to the food shows – after all, you can’t sell flavours through emails.”
The secret to Snezana’s success has come from her dedication to learning from the UK’s leading marketing experts and implementing what works, alongside a passion for her home flavours.
Every day since the launch of Granny’s Secret UK, Snezana has worked on bringing in new customers by identifying and targeting prospects by type of business and geography.To her most dedicated customers looking for something new, Snezana sends a ‘try me’ parcel or gift basket with unique items from her range of delicacies.
Snezana started to build her business by attending food shows, where 30% of her customers now originate from and has launched direct mail campaigns, sales brochures and held taster sessions to push its growth.
This approach has led to a 35% customer conversion rate and Snezana has already more than exceeded her financial targets for 2013.
She added: “Now, my orders are growing from the direct sales by my team and indirectly via a national distributor across some 800 independent shops – we still continue with follow-ups as the number one job to do every week.
“When everything was in place, I turned my attention to getting and keeping customers and raising my brand awareness.
“I did my research and identified exactly the type of people I needed to target and sent seasonal cards, pretty packages, follow up emails and a newsletter to build my customer relationships.
“Receiving national recognition for my achievements is a huge honour and I’m very proud of myself and my small, but perfectly formed team.”
The National Entrepreneur Awards were hosted by UK’s top satirical impressionist Alistair McGowan in front of 1,300 business owners at Birmingham’s ICC.
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