Enterprising Accountant Shortlisted For Two Business Awards - Berlitos

by Desi Koleva,
12 months ago

An enterprising accountant who turned a failing food processing plant in Dudley into an award-winning business with a £1 million turnover in less than 2 years has been shortlisted for two business awards.

Desi Koleva, a Managing Director of Food Trade International Ltd, bought the plant in one of the most deprived areas of Dudley in early 2014 after launching an initiative to bring back manufacturing to the United Kingdom.  Desi says – “I have been running a successful accountancy and bookkeeping business, as well as several food wholesale and catering businesses in the United Kingdom since 2001, when I first moved in to the country from Bulgaria. Throughout the years I have seen England losing its manufacturing to China, India and Europe. I have been living in Birmingham, UK more than I have lived in any other country in the World and this is my home now. It saddens me when great manufacturing companies, who originated and launched their businesses in this wonderful country have left or are leaving the Kingdom. It my passion to bring back the manufacturing and retain the employment in the United Kingdom; and show the leaving Corporations that we can have a sustainable manufacturing here in the UK, with competitive products at a competitive cost. And I hope I am the living proof of this.

Within 12 months of heading the company and acquiring the bankrupted plant, I built the manufacturing turnover to just under £400,000 from a standing start, having fully renovated the factory and hired staff. By March 2016 the company employed 20 staff and turned £1 million a year milestone, whilst I was looking after my new-born baby. ”

Specialising in traditional food products that take on a modern twist, the company developed its own branded products – including Mr Grill, Madara, Berlitos, Serene and its latest, Salamino and latest Beer Stix Bonbons are a hit, with an aim of creating at least one new innovative product a year. The company supplies its products to food service wholesalers, restaurants, take-away shops, pub chains and retailers. Company is fully STS and SALSA certified, accreditations that are not easy to achieve if you are the ‘new kid on the bloc’.

Such has been its success that last year the company beat off stiff competition from household name brands in the likes of M&S, Ocado, Tesco, Sainsbury’s to win accolades at the prestigious FMT Food Industry Awards hosted by MasterChef judge John Torode. Its Rio Pacific Roasted Chicken Drumsticks were highly commended in one category and a finalist in another.

Food Trade International Ltd prides itself of being green as the electricity used is from 50 KWh solar photovoltaic system installed. The company logistic is organised with environmentally friendly thought of using less C02 emissions.

Moreover, the ambitious entrepreneur Desi wants to give others a chance of success and is in the process by launching an intensive food industry service programme for unemployed people and students who want to build a career in the demanding and fast-moving industry.

She has been shortlisted for Business Person of the Year in the Midlands Business Awards and Food Trade International is a finalist in the Manufacturer of the Year category.

Desi, who grew up in Bulgaria, said: “I am delighted to be in the finals of two categories of the Midlands Business Awards. It is a testament to all the hard work everyone has put into Food Trade International Ltd to make it the success it is today.”

“We have created a vibrant business out of an ailing enterprise and I am sure it has a bright future ahead of it, bringing economic sustainability to the area.”

A true entrepreneur Desi launched her first successful enterprise at the age of eight when a school project led her to start a business that she sold for a substantial sum three years later.

After graduating from the ‘Harvard of Bulgaria’, the University of National and World Economy in Sofia, where she took a degree in Accounting and Business/Management, she set up her first company in the UK, Adapt Accountancy™ which she is still running today.

Not content with having just one company, in 2005 she set up Food Trade International, a family run supplier of raw, boiled and dry cured meats. Based in Birmingham, Food Trade International Ltd started as a wholesaler. Desi’s innovative know-how food recipes were ordered to make in Bulgaria from where she then sold on internationally. Her most popular products gaining international success were the chili-piri kofta and sheesh-kebabs and the handmade vegetable stuffed chicken leg quarter.

Ever entrepreneurial, and appalled at the British diet and the fact that one in three children in the UK are either obese or overweight by the age of nine, in 2011 she co-founded another company, KiddiChef.com, with Nicola Davis.

Together they had a vision of providing healthy and nutritious meals, of the correct portion size and packed with fresh vegetables, based on traditional home-style recipes from around the world. These are supplied to schools, nurseries and hospitals as well as parents. Desi and Nicola led KiddiChef to be the first company worldwide who clinically tested its food and proved to deliver more nutrition packed meals to toddlers aged 1 to 4 years old, including the ‘fussy eaters’.

On the back of Kiddichef.com both Desi and Nicola are developing a menu for the elderly which they are looking to also clinically trial.

Desi explained: “I have always enjoyed business and at the core of my business I always put first the people involved and then the profits. I started my first venture at the age of eight when I spotted the potential of a school project to make money. At the time I found my grandmother, a widow very lonely and sad and wanted to help her build friends and enjoy her last days in company and happiness. I discussed her situation with my schoolmates and my research established that there are a number of elderly are in the same predicament. I went on to creating the first granny knitting social club (every granny in Bulgaria at the time knew how to knit). Equally creating another for the Grand Fathers. I would purchase the wool and materials and draw the models I wanted knitted, creating a line of boutique knitted blouses, scarfs, mittens, baby blankets etc. These would then be sold via my sales reps (my class mates) and on a stool at the local weekend market. I absolutely loved it and this made every member of my supply chain exceptionally happy (grannies, local businesses and schoolmates). Now most of my classmates run successful businesses of their own.”

I enjoy using my skills to assist international businesses and individuals to also increase their wealth through my accountancy firm and running my own enterprises gives me a unique insight into how to help them keep ahead of their competitors.”

You can find about Food Trade International’s food innovation trends and the company latest creations on www.beritos.com or the Facebook page at https://en-gb.facebook.com/BerlitosGroup/ and see the latest Salamino and the Beer Stix Bonbons snacks – a nutritious meat-based snacks which provide vital protein, Iron, Zinc and B vitamins.