Chairman & Founder Ivan Watkiss is born in 1963.
Ivans Grandparents, Fred and Florence Cooper owned a small holding raising pigs.
In 1991, Ivan and wife Sue develop Gillhams into a thriving Deli and Coffee Shop. [hr] “Everything we do at Gillhams is born out of our love of good food, and that was the starting point for Coopers Gourmet Sausage Rolls,’ says Ivan.
When the recession hit, Ivan disappeared back into the kitchen to create the perfect sausage roll as he knew it could be a delicious foodie product.
Ivan’s prototypes were devoured by the staff at Gillhams and that was when, Coopers Gourmet Sausage Rolls was born!
By this time Ivan was making more and more Sausage Rolls and was running out of room so the decision to take the leap of faith and move to a unit was taken! Ivan and Anne moved to the Shropshire Food Enterprise Centre to a purpose built, state of the art Kitchen where there was plenty of room to grow the business…or so we thought!
Son, Jordan Watkiss joins the company as Event Manager. His role in the company was to book and organise all our our food festivals, events and markets.
In November 2012, we attended the Morgan Foundation Awards and went home with the title of ‘Best New Business”
After a couple of years in our unit we quickly outgrew it and had to move next door into one of the larger units (3000 sq.ft) following from listings with customers such as Harrods!
We decide to introduce Scotch Eggs into our range after demand from customer such as Selfridges. All of our Scotch Eggs are made by hand by our dedicated team.
Daughter, India Watkiss joins the company as Sales & Marketing Manager
Quickly outgrowing our 2nd unit at the Shropshire Food Enterprise Centre it was time to look for somewhere else. We came across a derelict packing shed in Roden, 5 miles outside of Shrewsbury. It was the perfect black canvas we were looking for. With 4 acres of land surrounding the building there would be plenty of room to expand. We took the plunge and placed an offer..it was accepted! Yay!
By August, we were ready to move into the brand spanking new Coopers HQ! It felt like home straight away. By moving into this 6500 sq.ft building it meant we had the space to improve our processes and increase our level of food safety. We had out SALSA audit in October and passed with flying colours!
In early 2016 Ivan heads back into the Kitchen to develop his Pork Pie ideas. Here, at Coopers we don’t like to do things by half. Therefore Ivan had a light bulb moment of flavouring the jelly! We launched 4 lines of Pork Pie in November 2016.
Towards the end of 2016, we decided that the name “Coopers Gourmet Sausage Rolls” just wasn’t right for us anymore as we do so much more than just our beloved Sausage Rolls, so we changed our trading name to “Coopers Gourmet Foods” and gave our logo a little face lift!
To be continued…