Posted: 22/02/2019

Bodnant Welsh Food’s new owner: “They didn’t have any part of it right”

The entrepreneur who saved Bodnant Welsh Food at the 11th hour has lambasted the previous management and vowed to restore the food centre’s original vision as he prepares for a major relaunch on St David’s Day.

Local businessman Richard Reynolds snapped up the assets of the stricken Conwy Valley business from its previous owner at the end of last year.

Reynolds, a golfing and hospitality entrepreneur, told FFD: “They didn’t have any part of it right. The product was wrong, the pricing was wrong, the management was wrong.

“There was no connection between any of the eateries and their butchery and bakery. The only thing they had right was the location. I didn’t realise how badly they were running it and how expensive it was.”  

He said the business, which houses a farm shop, café, restaurant and cookery school, needed “proper” management, good staff, the right products from the right sources and sold at the right price. He wanted to restore the supply lines of food from the butchery and bakery into the site’s restaurants.

Reynolds said it was “an outrage” that products available in Tesco had been stocked at Bodnant. “You won’t be seeing that sort of thing ever again here,” he said.

Instead, he vowed to turn to small, local suppliers in North Wales as he looked to restock the farm shop. The sourcing target is for 75% of food and drink sold to be Welsh, apart from the wine, by opening day.

Reynolds said: “We are a family business. We work very hard and we’ll hopefully get our cost structure right now. All we need to do now is to build the turnover again. I’m hoping we will make it profitable within 12 months. I don’t like to run things at losses.”

The tea room was refitted within a month of buying the business and is now branded The Furnace Eatery. Reynolds has also added an ice-cream parlour. 

Reynolds has been replacing all the former staff, whom he let go, and plans to recruit an independent auditor to scrutinise the business’s HACCP situation and stock. 

He added that suppliers had been “unbelievably welcoming” even though some had suffered financially at the hands of the previous owners.

“It’s our intention to make it a very traditional Welsh food centre as it was originally meant to be,” he said.

This story appeared in the January/February issue of Fine Food Digest. You can read more on the digital edition here.

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