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Interview: Clippy's Look To Expand After Solid Year

Books, TV and more products planned by Sale jam makers

Written by . Published on August 17th 2011.


Interview: Clippy's Look To Expand After Solid Year

SALE-based food firm Clippy’s Apples is on a mission to ‘sex up conserves’ after a year stocking the shelves of major UK supermarkets.

The company is run by Michelle McKenna (or Clippy, due to her extreme love of hairclips) and her partner Paul Gorman are planning to add new products and break into the world of recipe books.

Born from McKenna's previous career frustrations, she was inspired to try and bring jam to younger foodies.

Where did this brainwave hit? “Driving up the A56...it hit me like a bolt,” she told Confidential. “Apples.”

It wasn’t completely out of the blue though. Originally from Portsmouth, Clippy left school and decided to travel the world, which sparked her love affair with food. Her travels became a major inspiration for many of the flavours in the Clippy’s Apples range, including the Apple Figgy Diggy Conserve, after a spell in the South of France.

On her return, Clippy worked as a business travel consultant down South, but soon upped sticks to Sale for a change of direction. She studied Culture Studies & Sociology degree at Manchester University and was alarmed to discover two thirds had disappeared since the 1970s.

Clippy soon realised apples were her true calling, giving her the unusual idea of making apple conserves - something she claims had never been done commercially. Starting out in her kitchen at home with £100 worth of equipment, she ran the business single-handedly making jelly, conserve, relish and chutney.

As demand grew she upgraded to a specialist space developed in her garage, and then eventually set-up an external factory, now functioning in Manchester with an accompanying warehouse in Cheshire for stock.

Clippy’s partner Paul, disillusioned with work in a corporate IT environment, joined to help with the management side of the business. His ethos is simple. “To push forward...look around and see what to tweak and then go for it again”.

The pair pitched to Tesco and impressed them with their niche products that embody a traditionally British image. Clippy’s now supplies 800 Tesco stores.

Harvey Nichols, Fortnum & Mason, Ocado, Booths and 100 independent retailers are also stocking Clippy’s products and the firm provides catering to the National Trust and local eateries such as Soup Kitchen and Cheshire Smoke House.

The region already has one well-known preserve maker in Duerr’s, still manufacturing jam and marmalade in Wythenshawe; Clippy’s is looking to build on its product range with a brand new top-secret product as a range of books and possibly even a TV series.

What’s her favourite preserve? “The Apple, Garlic & Thyme Jelly. Awesome for cooking with. It melts on heat and we often use it at home in a sauce for pasta with meatballs.”

Look out for the Clippy’s Apples specials menu for Harvey Nichols’s Foodmarket Cafe in Manchester from 12th – 26th August, featuring sandwiches such as Lancashire Cheese with Clippy’s Apple, Tomato & Roasted Garlic Relish, Capricorn Goats Cheese with Clippy’s Apple, Redcurrant & Chilli Jam and Smoked Chicken with Clippy’s Apple, Mango & Chilli Chutney.

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