There have been the ups and downs, successes and failures, defeats, and triumphs – but thanks to our hugely loyal customers and suppliers, from the little to the large – we are still here and celebrating.
Above all, we feel being a business owner is a privilege. Sure, it can be tough, and every day brings its own special challenges. From dealing with different personalities, failures, machinery breakdowns, logistical nightmares, increased costs, to a pandemic, lockdowns, and so on, but the loyalty shown to us by so many is the reason we are here today telling the Ffowcs Williams story.
We know only too well our customers and suppliers all have their own challenges, especially these days, so it is important to us to keep positive. I firmly believe all you need from us is safe, nutritious, value for money choices - how we get that to you is our challenge to face.
Here’s a snapshot of our history. My family came to New Zealand when I was 10. My kiwi mum returned with her Welsh husband and three kids. Dad, a master mariner by trade, left us for six months to figure out what he was going to do. Somehow, he ended up in Wellington with a tonne of frozen broccoli. This he proceeded to sell and Ffowcs Williams was born.
We have had many firsts to market over the years. Frozen blueberries many, many years ago when a category manager took a big chance on us with these. Hey Pesto (developed in my friends’ kitchen), nectars, jams, jellies, and even preservative-free condiments developed by mum as my younger brother is severely affected by additives. We did a battered fish way back, which my friends and I loved having in the freezer after a night out. There was frozen ratatouille and kumara and we were first to market with mixed berries, smoothie berries, the first and only well-being range of fruit. The list goes on, but you get the idea.
In 1995, early one Friday afternoon, my dad, who had recently completed an MBA, left the office. He then phoned mum to announce he was not coming back and to put me, Miranda, in his office. I was 27 at the time (and had been with the business for eight years) with no formal training. I’d left school after sixth form with university entrance but no desire to continue schooling. Mum proceeded to bugger off to Greece to find herself (think Shirley Valentine – google it if you need to) and I was left holding the baby.
Thrown in at the deep end is really the only way to describe that experience and I just had to get on with it. We’d huddle together on the 20th of each month to try to figure out how we could possibly get everyone paid on time. Funds were more than tight, but with a few friendly and extremely helpful clients willing to take a chance on us we somehow managed not to let anyone down.
A few people who had dealt with my dad back in the day had doubts about doing business with a young woman – said I wouldn’t last five minutes – but here I am!
We have been privileged to work with many wonderful people in our 42-year journey. To my staff who are amazing and very highly appreciated - thank you. I could not ask for a better team of people to work with. The team puts in every single hour possible to get the job done. These past 10 weeks have been massive, and our people have been amazing.
To our many, many, many category managers along the way, 100% of you have been an integral part of our journey, 98.39% of you have been honest, encouraging, helpful, supportive, enthusiastic, and prepared to take a chance on us. Some of you even believed in our first to market ideas before we did.
For a company to survive, let alone thrive, there must have been many more good experiences, interactions, and people than bad. I can say hand on heart this is my experience, and I am incredibly appreciative and proud.
Miranda Ffowcs Williams
For the last 42 years, Ffowcs Williams Ltd has been New Zealand's largest supplier of frozen and processed fruit and continues to be the leading supplier of frozen fruit to the supermarket trade.
Our sole focus is fruit - frozen and processed. What does this mean for you? It means our team only thinks (and often dreams) about fruit. The end result is we get you what you want, when you want it, at the right price and the right paperwork all in order. On top of that, if anything does go wrong, we back up our product 100% - we will sort out any problems quickly, openly, and professionally. This goes not just for New Zealand, but as well for our numerous customers around the world.