The So­pher fam­ily has turned a gourmet snack into big busi­ness

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - www.joe­sand­sephs.co.uk BY VIC­TO­RIA PREVER

ADAM SO­PHER doesn’t re­mem­ber his fa­ther, Joseph, do­ing much cook­ing when he was grow­ing up. “My mum, Jackie, did all the fam­ily meals. Dad was only in­ter­ested in mak­ing pop­corn” says Adam, 32.

“He made it for us for years when we were kids after dis­cov­er­ing it in the States in the 1990s when he was there on busi­ness. At the time, we only had bor­ing salted or sweet flavours here. Dad spent years test­ing recipes in our kitchen.”

In 2008, when in his early 50s, Joseph took early re­tire­ment — the elec­tri­cal whole­sal­ing busi­ness his fa­ther had founded had gone into ad­min­is­tra­tion. Bored at home, he turned his pop­corn ex­per­i­ments into a busi­ness.

He tested the mar­ket at a food show at Olympia in 2010, with sam­ples of six flavours, in­clud­ing caramel, mirin and goat’s cheese with black pep­per, un­der the brand name Joe and Seph’s in­spired by Joseph’s name. They sold out quickly and had in­ter­est from Sel­f­ridges which be­came the first shop to stock their prod­uct.

Adam, an eco­nom­ics grad­u­ate, was still work­ing full time at Dixons Re­tail as a fi­nan­cial con­sul­tant at the time, but he and Jackie — who had been a stay-at-home mum — soon joined the busi­ness. They started sell­ing from a stall at Brent Cross shop­ping cen­tre. “Many of our cus­tomers still re­mem­ber us from then,” says Adam.

At that point, his par­ents were mak­ing the pop­corn in a rented kitchen in Park Royal, pay­ing for it by the hour to save money. After work, Joseph de­vel­oped new flavours in the kitchen at their home in Radlett.

“He loved find­ing new com­bi­na­tions and would spend time play­ing with the in­gre­di­ents in our kitchen cup­boards. If he liked a pair­ing, he turned it into a flavour.”

Adam won’t re­veal their ex­act recipe. “I can tell you that we use fan­tas­tic in­gre­di­ents and layer on the flavours, so they come through grad­u­ally in your mouth, but how we get those flavours onto the pop­corn is our se­cret process.” They only use large corn ker­nels and only in­clude whole popped ker­nels.

Younger brother, Paul (27), has now joined the fam­ily busi­ness, which has grown quickly and turns over £5 mil­lion a year. Only sis­ter, Louise (25), a para­medic, has re­sisted — “She prefers sav­ing lives to pop­ping corn”.

The pop­corn is now pro­duced in the com­pany’s kitchens in Har­les­den, not far from Adam’s home in Queens Park, with 14 chefs pop­ping more than 40 flavours.

The brand is avail­able in 2,500 lo­ca­tions — in­clud­ing cin­e­mas and on air­lines in­clud­ing Bri­tish Air­ways and easyJet — and in more than 19 coun­tries, in­clud­ing Aus­tralia, France and Hong Kong.

“We cre­ated a salted liquorice pop­corn just for the Scan­di­na­vian mar­ket — they love much more salt than the UK. We also find that our stronger flavours like espresso, and tof­fee ap­ple with cin­na­mon sell bet­ter in Ger­many. The UK’s favourite flavour is salted caramel.” They have yet to make it to Is­rael — “We hop­ing to find a part­ner to launch us there in the com­ing year.”

A big busi­ness from a tiny ker­nel of an idea.

Adam So­pher co-founded the busi­ness with his par­ents

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.