Roly’s Fudge Pantry welcomes interest from any area, age or background. Our Roly’s Fudge family ranges from students to couples, families to individuals.
Gina – Owner of Roly’s Fudge Chester and Roly’s Fudge Keswick
Having grown up in the Roly’s Fudge family (My parents started the company) I NEVER imagined I would go on to own my own fudge shop. I remember the trips to the cash and carry where everything was 6 times as big as me and thought it was all just a bit of fun rather than actual work! Fast forward a few years and I ended up at Durham University studying Natural Sciences. I immersed myself in student life, triathlon, cross country running, rowing and partying. During these years I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do when my degree was done but I pushed the worries aside and carried on having a nice time. In my third and final year, we had a lot of ‘recruitment fairs’, where companies come and visit the university and try and enrol you on a course of inspire you into a job….mostly in London. Even though I was completely uninspired by this, I felt it’s what I ‘should’ be doing but never quite could bring myself to be interested at all. I watched many friends start applying for jobs…some applied for many at once…seemingly just happy to take whatever they could. I saw how stressful it was having interviews and disappointments and even though it was now nearing the end of final year with exams approaching, I don’t think I ever even looked on a job website. My heart just wasn’t in it and with that, I knew I wouldn’t get a job!
I graduated from Durham and wasn’t getting too nervous with the knowledge I was off to New Zealand for 6 weeks where I could have a good think! When I returned it was crunch time! I had decided I wanted to be self employed, and definitely not join the corporate would but I just didn’t know what I wanted to do. I think it was my Dad who suggested fudge (partly for being low risk and having all my parents support and knowledge). Whilst I was at uni Dad actually sold the company but I had the opportunity to buy a franchise from its new owner. After a (small) bit of umming and ahhing, the decision was made. Now to find a place! I was happy to move anywhere in the country…my only ties were family and I knew they’d come and visit
I did a lot of research looking for a good location and visited many places within 1 month. The hardest bit was finding a good shop with decent rent. Oh and I was adamant on a river and a triathlon club! Then we found Chester. And a shop. Everything fell into place very fast and I basically left home and moved to Chester where I didn’t know a soul and opened a shop all at once. Luckily it’s been a big success!!
The self employed lifestyle has been brilliant for me. I love being able to dictate my own times and ride my bike, especially as Chester is busiest in winter, perfect for cycling in summer! The shop has gone from strength to strength and I have loved watching it grow. Being part of a franchise is really beneficial because you can all bounce ideas off one another and work as a big team under one umbrella but with the scope to add some individuality too. The franchise situation also helps at the start to give confidence that it’s something that is worth doing…look how many shops are successful now all over the place!!
Gina’s case study was written when she had opened her first Roly’s Fudge Pantry in Chester. Since then she’s also opened a Roly’s Fudge Pantry in the heart of Keswick, Cumbria – and continues to ride her bike everywhere through the Lake District!
Andy, Kate & Family – Owners of Roly’s Fudge Stratford-upon-Avon and Roly’s Fudge Stow-on-the-Wold
We had visited Roly’s Fudge Pantries on many Devon family holidays when our children were young and realised then there was no fudge as good as Rolys’! Andy had spotted the franchise opportunity 15 years or so ago and had dropped into conversation many times that this would be his ideal job. It was only in October 2013 after 20 years selling packaging to manufacturers and retailers across the country that he was brave enough to start the journey into the realising his dream. We opened our shop on High Street, Stratford-upon-Avon in May 2014 and found Rolys exceptionally helpful during the early stages of planning: from help finding the right location to the practical information available throughout the process. In addition there has been great ongoing support in the first months of opening and advice to help us achieve our best potential as a new franchisee. As a result our whole family has found themselves a role to play; our eldest son has a ready-made holiday job when on leave from university and our two daughters (and friends!) have thoroughly enjoyed working in the business on Saturdays and school holidays.
Since writing this case study, Andy and Kate have opened another fudge pantry in Stow-on-the-Wold where they continue to make handmade fudge every day for the town’s visitors.
Guy and Greg – Owners of four shops based in Lincoln, Bakewell, York and Bowness-on-Windermere
Guy and I met whilst living down in Sussex. We were both working in retail management and both keen to make the move towards self employment and a less ‘corporate’ working environment. Having spent a fair amount of time brainstorming potential ideas, we realised that between us both we had probably exhausted around 50+ Roly’s Fudge Loyalty Cards, from the Brighton branch. The answer had been under our noses (and in our bellies!) the whole time.
Roly’s essentially offered everything we were looking for. Independence, whilst providing us with the ‘toolkit’ for running a pantry under an established and well respected brand. The business model just clicked with us. Fresh ingredients, zero food wastage, retail theatre and a handmade artisan product. These were things we were already passionate about.
We spent a year looking at 18 different towns and cities, from the Highlands of Scotland, to the Sussex Coast. When not in work, we were to be found on a plane, train or off in the car scouting. It had to be right, and we knew just what we were looking for. On reading that Lincoln’s Steep Hill had just received ‘UK Street of the Year 2012’, off we set. We offered on the unit the very same day and before we knew it we were adopted ‘Yellow Bellies’ (Lincolnites) and opened Roly’s Fudge Lincoln in March 2013.
Eighteen months later we found ourselves passing through the Peak District National Park, and decided to stop for a wander around Bakewell town centre. It was immediately clear that a Pantry would work here and we set about earmarking ideal units should they ever come up. We spoke to local traders and left our details. We received a phone call a few days later informing us that our first choice unit was due to come onto the market that day. We lept at the opportunity and opened Roly’s Fudge Bakewell in September 2014.
To avoid the case of ‘too many cooks’, I made the move into the Peak District to manage the Bakewell store, and Guy took on the role of managing the Lincoln store. Allocating the day-to-day management of the stores in this way, whilst each retaining ownership, meant we could each maintain a professional identity but at the same time have a buddy for support.
As Bakewell was approaching its first anniversary we started looking again at York, which had always been on the back burner from our initial scouting. We were determined to secure this flagship store in the ‘Confectionery Capital of the UK’, and knew that having a Pantry here would be a good move for the brand identity in the North of England. We secured a property on the historic ‘Shambles’, and opened Roly’s Fudge York in July 2015.
Having three stores has now meant that Guy and myself have been able to step back, fully staffing the shops and taking on more of a district management role. This kind of flexibility and freedom would simply not have been afforded to us in our jobs prior to Roly’s Fudge. Fudge has completely changed our lives and we are immensely proud to be Roly’s Fudge franchisees. Our only word of caution would be… the fudge is moreish, but store openings are addictive.
Perhaps, in the spirit of the Roly’s Fudge Loyalty Card where customers get a free 100g of fudge after five visits, opening five stores will see us get a free one. Will try floating that idea at the franchisee meeting in January!
Since this case study was written, Guy and Greg have now opened their fourth shop Bowness-on-Windermere in the summer of 2016, and continue to manage the four shops while looking for more shops. Maybe they’ll hit the five store mark soon and test that ‘five stores’ loyalty card idea!