Growth experts receive local recognition

AFP Services, a Kettering company that provides outsourced back-office services for its clients, is celebrating after scooping two awards at the inaugural Kettering Business Awards.

The business picked up the Employer of the Year and Business of the Year awards after securing the most public votes in each category.

Founder of AFP Services, Richard Peel, said: “To win arguably the two biggest categories at the Kettering Business Awards was a huge boost for us. We have been based in Kettering for 16 years but many people locally are still unaware of us and most of our clients are based in London. To get this recognition at a local level is just fantastic.”

AFP Services specialises in working with companies with ambitions to grow. It supports around 80 businesses from pre-revenue start-ups to multi-million-pound enterprises, managing all aspects of their back office including finance and accounts, order management, operations and governance.

Catherine Casey, Managing Director, added: “We put so much of our energy into working closely with clients to provide them with what they need. Some businesses fear their accountants and don’t want to talk to them too much, we aim for the opposite. The fact that so many of our clients took the time to vote for us really means a lot to myself and the team.”

Two Chicks, a London-based business which sells egg-based high protein products is an example of a typical AFP client. AFP started working with Two Chicks in early 2012. The Two Chicks directors, Anna Richey and Alla Ouvarova, wanted to focus their time and efforts on sales, marketing, branding and product development so initially used AFP for bookkeeping and management reporting. The business has seen treble digit growth over the last few years and now sells to major UK supermarkets such as Waitrose, Tesco, Asda, and Sainsbury’s, as well as exporting to Holland and the UAE. AFP now manages not only the accounting function, including budgets, cash flow and project appraisals, but also customer orders, supplier and bank relationships, stock management, customer services and sending out samples. Today, Two Chicks has an outsourced team of six AFP Services staff - a Finance Director, two accountants, a business analyst and two operations staff.

Last year, as part of Two Chicks’ new product development process, AFP’s Richard Peel donned a blue hair net and white coat to visit the factory where new high protein crisps ‘Chirps’ were being tested. He even came up with a new flavour idea whilst he was there.

Richard said: “Two Chicks wanted another flavour to compliment the Sea Salt and Sour Cream and Onion flavours already in the pipeline. I suggested a Smoky jalapeño flavour, which is now a “live” product. When I set up AFP I did not envisage developing crisp flavours, but this sort of background work really helps us understand our clients’ businesses. When we started working with Two Chicks they had one product. Now they have six and plan to introduce more next year.”

Anna Richey of Two Chicks added: “AFP Services has taken away the time-consuming tasks of running our business, allowing us to concentrate on new product development, marketing, branding and increasing sales. They have got to know our business inside out and I would now consider AFP Services as our trusted business partner. We also know that we have the best team working for us without the headache and costs of recruiting them personally.”

“I truly believe we have a unique way of working and are unlike any other outsourced back office business,” said Richard. “We become part of the team and provide resources with varying experience and skill-sets, getting involved at almost every stage of the business, from the basic day to day to the more complex strategy and planning matters.”

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