Binghams potted beef & beef spread

Discover how Panicium Group unlocks new horizons for craft and artisan food companies  

Panicium Limited (Panicium) is a highly successful group that comprises some of the UK’s most renowned traditional food companies. Panicium’s main strategic objective is to acquire businesses within the British craft and artisan food sector, thereby building a portfolio of brands characterized by their hand-made, high-quality products, as well as their distinct regional identity. Companies that join Panicium benefit from expanded product reach through enhanced direct and indirect marketing, drawing the attention of retail outlets seeking to offer premium specialist food products. Moreover, these companies enjoy increased purchasing power for common raw materials, logistics, and storage services. Panicium also facilitates optimal asset utilization by sharing specialized equipment and managing peak demand for seasonal products. Peter Fields, Director, reflects on the creation of the group. 

Black pudding“Before founding the group, my background was in chemical engineering and distribution. I have known and worked with Graham Norfolk, Director, for 12 years across various businesses, but it wasn’t until 2018 that we decided to create our own food group. To align with our vision of acquiring craft and artisan food companies, we named it Panicium, a word derived from Latin, encompassing the essence of all things baked. Our dedication to craft and artisan companies stems from our passion for responsibly sourced, quality ingredients and handcrafted, non-mass-produced food items. Upon beginning our journey in the baked goods sector, we realized the scarcity of such companies and subsequently decided to broaden our scope to include other food sectors offering artisan quality products. By diversifying our company’s portfolio, we provide a more comprehensive range of products with complementary items that cater to various occasions and preferences. When acquiring new companies, we favor successful family-owned businesses with a well-recognized brand identity and products loved by most. These companies have often experienced growth but have reached a point where further expansion or acquisition is challenging for the owners. The other scenario is where the owner/founder is thinking about retirement and wants to make sure that their company is left in safe hands and will continue to grow. This is precisely where Panicium steps in,” he informs. 

The importance of provenance 

However, Panicium goes beyond seeking companies with significant growth potential and places a particular emphasis on businesses with a distinct regional provenance. Graham joins the conversation to shed light on Panicium’s company portfolio, highlighting its commitment to celebrating diverse culinary traditions and local flavors. “Six years ago, we bought our first company: Margaret Hall Limited, trading as Margaret’s Country Kitchen. In the following couple of years, the pandemic put our acquisition plans on hold. In 2022, we purchased Binghams Food, a potted meat business based in Sheffield, which sells mainly through the supermarkets in the Midlands and surrounding areas. Lastly, just before Christmas last year, Panicium acquired Bury Black Pudding, which supplies black pudding to multiple companies in the food service sector.” 

“To illustrate the concept of regional provenance, let’s consider the example of Binghams potted meat. Those who grew up around Sheffield are likely to be familiar with this product, with some eating it regularly after school. This is because the Binghams brand is a household name in that area, as it is where it originated. On the other hand, Margaret’s Country Kitchen is not necessarily tied to a specific region, but its provenance lies in its association with founder Margaret Hall. Whether they sell their own products or supply goods to other companies under their own labels, the brand is recognized. Therefore, to us, provenance signifies a connection to a name or a particular region,” adds Peter. 

Back-office support Tray of tarts

Elaborating further on the nature of Panicium’s operations, Peter explains how the company manages and supports the businesses within its portfolio. “Growing a business requires careful consideration of various factors. One way to expand a business is by expanding its footprint or exploring different channels to the market. In the food industry, there are three main sectors, or channels: food service, supermarkets, and wholesale. An example of a company exploring different channels could be if Bury Black Pudding’s products were also sold to hotels, which could then offer them on their menu. We also need to get the message across that our standard Bury Black Pudding stands out as having a very low fat content compared to other products on the market. Similarly, Binghams Potted Meat is a fantastic product but is currently mainly purchased in a 150-kilometer radius of Sheffield. Our challenges include how to extend geographical market and to raise awareness of the quality of the products. Navigating the different channels is especially important as bringing a new offering to the market is a challenging endeavor. For instance, securing an appointment to pitch a product to large supermarkets can be incredibly difficult without an existing relationship. This is where the synergies of Panicium’s companies come into play. We aim to expand sales by accessing different channels to market through leveraging the existing relationships of each business within the group. By utilizing our connections, we can streamline operations and enhance efficiency. Moreover, since our approach is rooted in partnerships, we strive to work alongside our partners to align our efforts and complement their existing strategies. Thus, the core philosophy of Panicium revolves around collaboration, and ultimately, family values.” 

Graham continues: “Another advantage of being part of Panicium is our comprehensive back-office management for each company. Although necessary, tasks related to regulations, finances, and HR are rarely enjoyable for businesses, hence why we provide these services to each company we acquire. It’s important to note that in most cases, we encourage the owners of these organizations to remain on board and continue running the business. Indeed, by offering back-office support, we empower them to concentrate solely on the tasks they truly enjoy, such as interacting with customers and overseeing day-to-day operations.” 

Prioritizing partnerships 

As our interview draws to a close, Peter announces exciting new products that will take center stage for the group over the next year. “Bury Black Pudding has a brilliant new product, currently exclusively available at Asda: a vegan black pudding. In addition, Binghams has a distinctive new potted salmon product. Our goal is to increase awareness of these products in the marketplace and make them accessible in more supermarkets. The vegan black pudding is a fantastic product that is not only healthy and sustainable, but it also tastes just like traditional black pudding, which is why we aim to actively promote it. Considering that Bury Black Pudding is widely known for its delicious classic black pudding, the challenge lies in convincing people that the vegan version is equally exceptional,” he ends. 

By prioritizing partnerships with companies sharing the same values and vision, Panicium unlocks new opportunities and drives their success. The group’s approach is particularly beneficial for those contemplating the future direction of their business.