Keane sisters on hunt for new premises as business continues to boom
It may seem like a good complaint to have, one which any business owner would be envious of, but for Karen and Natalie Keane, owners of Bean and Goose chocolatiers, the increasing popularity of their product has come with its own set of problems.
With sales on the increase the pair are currently on the lookout for new premises, but Natalie says they have thus far struggled to find somewhere suitable.
'It's proving really difficult to source new premises, it's a bigger problem than we foresaw. We thought the biggest problem would be raising the funding, but we didn't realise there was such a shortage of commercial properties,' she says.
Although Easter proved incredibly successful for Bean and Goose, Natalie says Christmas remains their biggest time of the year, and a new production centre needs to be located by September to deal with the influx of orders they're likely to receive.
However, one option the sisters will not be exploring is moving outside of the county.
'We're going to stay in Wexford, there's no way we're going to go anywhere else. Everything we do is about Wexford, about the landscape, and the flavours, so for us not to be here means we lose our brand story, and we're not prepared to do that. It has to be Wexford.'
Having come to the industry as relative tyros in 2014, the Keanes have seen their business grow exponentially on a year-to-year basis. Helped by investment from Enterprise Ireland, Bean and Goose, which currently operates out of The Last Tree Farm in Ferns, had its best year to date in 2018 and now the onus is on capitalising on this success by expanding the organisation.
'Once we have a new facility we'll take on a full-time production manager,' said Natalie who, along with Karen, is one of two full-time members of staff at the company. 'We also want to grow our digital marketing team, our focus is online and reaching our customers through social media.'
With no physical 'bricks 'n' mortar' store of their own, Karen and Natalie currently rely on other retailers to stock their produce. But a growing part of their revenue now comes through their own website.
'Our plan was to double our sales over Easter, but we quadrupled them,' Natalie says. Attributing this increase in sales to an improved digital marketing strategy, Natalie said selling directly to their customers online 'allows us to control our own brand story.'