Paul Simon find sout what drives entrepreneur Paddy Bishopp
Paddy Bishopp, co-founder of Paddy & Scott’s, is every inch an entrepreneur – driven by success, ambitious... and restless. Paul Simon talked to him about his next venture
Beans to bubbles
PADDY Bishopp’s business career, and indeed his life more generally, reads a little like a breathless Boy’s Own story.
Half of the eponymous Paddy & Scott’s, already a well known UK brand of this century, he seems to move from one exciting venture onto another with barely a pause taken or a breath inhaled.
It’s appropriate, therefore, that his speaking style is suitably well-paced, ideas and aspirations tumbling out like a page-turning adventure novel. We start with his local roots and close identification with the county.
“I am a very proud Suffolk boy, and having been here since the age of nine, I am just about seen as a local. After Framlingham College, where like many entrepreneurs I struggled within the constraints of the classroom and spent far too much time playing sport – I still hold the school 800 and 1500m records – I went to Reading University to do teacher training, but very quickly realised that this was another classroom and it was not for me. I wanted to work and earn money.
“With no previous experience, I managed to talk my way into my first role running a concession in Harrods for Geo F Trumper, selling razors, shaving brushes and men’s accessories. Sales improved in the initial six months by 175% and I realised that I could sell. So that started a London career in sales and marketing, which then led me to working in a start-up, successfully launching an online auction site.”
But lest one assumes this is all about geewhizzery and riding a lucky wave through the application of faultless charm, Paddy has a clear and tried and tested approach to running a business.
“I have always admired one part of Richard Branson – how he understands his strengths and weaknesses, and surrounds himself with good people. At Paddy & Scott’s we built an amazing team of people, each with their own strengths, and this is a key part of its success – so thank you, team.” Paddy returned to Suffolk with his wife, Sarah, after the birth of their first child – “I believe that there is no better county to live in and bring up children,” he says – knowing that an entrepreneur’s life was for him.
“I was lucky enough to find a product I loved and really believed in. Food and drink is my big love and my wife, Sarah, and I started Eat Anglia, a home delivery/café/deli company specialising in local food and drink. In our first year, we won Best Café in Suffolk at the 2006 EADT Food and Awards and the judges highlighted the coffee. I knew then that we had a winning product. When the opportunity came to buy the roaster, and learn the art of coffee roasting, it was my calling. And the rest is history, as they say.”
It was at this stage that he sold Eat Anglia and joined up with Scott Russell, who had an
impressive track record as an entrepreneur in telecoms and was looking for a new challenge.
The Paddy and Scott combination has become one of those heroic binary brands, a bit like Stanley and Livingstone, or Asterix and Obelix. Its success is in their complementary skills and in good communications
“Scott and I had a very honest chat when we started the company, on expectations, and it is fair to say that we wanted to take over the world. We are both very ambitious, and had such a belief in our product and ethos that we felt there was a gap in the market that we could really make our own. I think it is really important that business partners agree, at the beginning, on the end goal and how to get there.
“As a company we have been through a terrible recession, which definitely slowed down our ambitious plans, but also made us stronger. We constantly looked at the market, looked for new opportunities and grabbed the ones we believed were the right fit for the business to help us grow.”
In 2007, Paddy & Scott’s roasted 750kg of coffee beans in Scott’s garage. Ten years later, employing over 30 people and with 50 café concessions, they produce over 320,000kg – about 90,000 cups per day – including into the Chinese and Russian markets. Paddy has also learnt that there comes a time when he should finish one adventure before embarking on another.
“As a consequence of surrounding yourself with great people, you can find that the day-to-day running of the company no longer needs you. I had this realisation last year at Paddy & Scott’s. It allowed Scott and myself to work on projects like a potential Dubai franchise, our Kenyan Plantation project and to investigate our coffee in pods, biodegradable coffee cups, which we have just launched.
“Scott and I agreed that after 10 years at the helm and with the great team in place, the business would survive and grow – and that was key – without me working operationally in the business. In December last year, I left my desk at Paddy & Scott’s, very proud of what we have built, and I now sit as a brand ambassador for the company and advise the board.”
It also freed him up, in one bound, to try his skills and derring-do in another market sector. Enter Bubble and Squid. Set up initially as an events and street food concept, it is exactly what it says, simply delicious calamari with a glass of champagne.
“I took the idea to my good friend, the chef and restaurateur, Vernon Blackmore, who owns both The Table and The Anchor in Woodbridge, which follows my business mantra of bringing in the right people around you.
“This year you will find us at many events such as The Suffolk Show, Jimmy’s Festival and Suffolk Dog Day, but the long term aim for this is London street food sites and our own restaurant chain, so watch this space.”
Paddy has also set up Bishopp and Co Ltd, to offer director-level support and mentoring. So how does he rate Suffolk as a place to build a business? A sharp intake of breath, followed by a clear and honest appraisal.
“The hardest part of being a Suffolk-based business is finding people to work for you. There’s a reason that mobile phone reception is so terrible in this county – there are not enough chimney pots for the providers to warrant investment in this area.
“The population level impacts employment – a lot of the younger generation, like I did, will go to London. Suffolk is a very rural county making transport difficult, so if you’re based out of town there’s the challenge of staff getting to you. And let’s not get started on the joys of actually entering Suffolk via the A12 or A14.” But ultimately, for Paddy, it comes down to communications and building relationships with customers.
“Suffolk has so much potential, but the biggest problem is that so many people seem terrible at marketing themselves out of the county, especially in food and drink. We have some of the best producers in the country, we are a top five foodie county, but we hate shouting about our success.
“The Suffolk success story can go the whole way, but we need to spread the word and not be afraid to get out there and say ‘we are the best’. We have achieved this in coffee, and Aspall and Adnams are also examples of what can be achieved with phenomenal success. So let’s build on this.”
“The Suffolk success story can go the whole way, but we need to spread the word and not be afraid to get out there and say ‘we are the best’.”
Top: Vernon Blackmore and Paddy Bishopp at Woodbridge Tide Mill Left: Paddy Bishopp