Oldham kitchens firm targets exports after funding deal

Linda Lewis and Afsar Hussain

Linda Lewis Kitchens is set to start exporting for the first-time following funding from Santander Business Banking.

The Oldham-based firm is an importer of high-quality Italian-manufactured catering equipment for UK restaurants, food outlets and professional caterers.

Established in 2006 by businesswoman Linda Lewis, the firm made a real impact in the UK pizza market in 2010 when it landed sole rights to Italian pizza oven brand Cuppone.

Since then, LLK has grown into one of the UK’s leading specialists for all types of pizza equipment and ovens, importing brands such as FAC, Fimar, Elframo, Arris and Universo.

In 2016, LLK introduced its own range of DEFRA-approved wood and gas living-flame ovens, offering customers a traditional cooking experience.

The business, which won Business of the Year in the £1m to £5m category at the Oldham Business awards this year, has continued to expand and grow.

A recent contract with a large pub chain to supply various pieces of equipment was part of a significant rise in revenues. For the most recent financial year, turnover increased 53%, with similar growth forecast over the next 12 months.

Santander Business Banking has supported LLK for the past 12 years with a broad suite of products and services, including attendance at an APPInstitute Masterclass and help with launching a new app.

In addition, the bank provided Linda with a Santander business mentor who introduced her to a specialist to help set future business goals.

Most recently the bank has provided an invoice finance facility to manage cash flow, an asset finance facility to help with the purchase of a new van, and a foreign exchange line.

The business is now looking to seize international trading opportunities and is working closely with Santander with a view to start exporting out of the UK within the next 12 months.

Linda Lewis said: “Santander has been a key partner for us over the past decade, and as we look to take the business to the next level and expand outside of the UK the bank continues to play a key role in the business.

“We are excited by the opportunities we have both in the UK and abroad, and confident we will meet our aspirations.”

Afsar Hussain, business relationship director, Santander Business Banking, said: “Linda Lewis Kitchens is a fantastic local business, richly deserving of its recent award, and we’re delighted to be able to support Linda and the team invest for growth.

“Santander’s expertise in helping SMEs export is a key differentiator for the bank and our customers.”