James Averdieck: How I brought continental style home

James Averdieck spotted a gap in the market for a high-end pudding brand whilst spolit for choice by patisseries in Belgium. Soon after, he formed Gü.

One lunchtime, while working in Belgium for food producer St Ivel in 2001, James Averdieck visited a small patisserie. He sampled a "particularly tasty chocolate souffl". Right then he realised "large supermarkets in Britain didn't have fresh, premium deserts like this".

By 2003 he was ready to return to Britain to "try my idea". Having worked in marketing for both supermarkets and food producers he was "fairly confident" he could "get the product on the shelves". However, he "knew next to nothing about making food" and needed a partner. He began contacting caterers and eventually struck gold at a food fair in Barcelona. His new partner was the owner of a north-London-based patisserie that supplied airlines with deserts. "We decided to form a joint venture, separate from his existing business. He would make the product, I would market it and deliver it to the shops." Crucially, his new partner agreed to stump up the £150,000 needed to get the business going in return for a 70% stake. They put a chef to work for six months the result was a chocolate mousse that contained 50% real chocolate. "It looked pretty good next to the mousses already on the shelves they only had around 5% chocolate."

Now it was time for Averdieck to "do my part" and get the desert into the shops. He decided on the name G because "it sounded exotic and luxurious". Desperate to get the branding right, he carried out some unofficial' market research. He had some demo boxes made up and sneaked them into a Waitrose store. When he saw customers putting them in their baskets, he knew the product was ready. Meetings with supermarket buyers followed. "It wasn't too difficult. They realised that they had nothing like it already." After a few months he had deals to supply 100 Waitrose stores and 200 locations for Sainsbury's, mostly in the south.

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"The great thing about the business model was that we were able to scale up production with demand and didn't have to commit massive amounts of capital until we were sure that there were orders." The small luxury mousses sold for £1.50 each. "They weren't cheap but came in glass servings and looked like the real deal." The expensive packaging paid off as "people started using them at dinner parties and pretending that they were home made". G even started giving customers tips on how they could customise the desserts and pass them off as their own. Sales rocketed and after the first year they had sold £1.3m worth of puddings. "From then on everything snowballed. More customers wanted it, more shops wanted it and we started bringing out new ranges." G also tapped into the healthy-living boom with Fr, a sister brand that offers fruit-based desserts.

By 2010 sales had reached £30m and the company had even started selling puddings to the fussy French. G's success had attracted the interest of one of their suppliers, egg-producer Noble. The duo were made an offer "they couldn't refuse" and decided to sell up. Averdieck stayed on as managing director for a year to ease the transition. Despite a multi-million-pound windfall, Averdieck plans to return to business. "I will take my time and wait for the right opportunity but I am sure I will come back with something eventually."

James graduated from Keele University with a BA (Hons) in English literature and history, and has a NCTJ certificate in journalism.


After working as a freelance journalist in various Latin American countries, and a spell at ITV, James wrote for Television Business International and covered the European equity markets for the Forbes.com London bureau. 


James has travelled extensively in emerging markets, reporting for international energy magazines such as Oil and Gas Investor, and institutional publications such as the Commonwealth Business Environment Report. 


He is currently the managing editor of LatAm INVESTOR, the UK's only Latin American finance magazine.