Inside Business: There's no stopping an old banger

ACCORDING to conventional business wisdom, detailed research and analysis should precede any acquisition. But, as Robin Ronaldshay admits, the deal under which he acquired Musks Sausages owed much more to chance.

He was staying with friends in Newmarket, the world-renowned horse-racing centre and home for more than a century of the traditionally-made sausages, when he met Jane Waddilove, the woman who ran the business - then just a shop in Newmarket High Street with a sausage-making facility above - and learnt that the proprietor was looking to sell.

"It lodged in my mind and one thing led to another," says Mr Ronaldshay, an earl who combines the business with running his family's estate in Yorkshire.

It had nothing to do with his previous business activities - he had run a mail-order company after leaving Arlington Securities, the property company that was taken over by British Aerospace - but he was intrigued by the idea. And five years later, he has contracts to supply Waitrose and Tesco supermarkets.

Still made to the original recipe dating back to the business's beginnings in 1884, Musk Sausages have always been consumed heavily at Newmarket race meetings, with some punters even taking supplies home with them. But Mr Ronaldshay saw a way of building the business into something more substantial, through what he admits sounds like a Blairite policy of "taking sausages to the people".

This resulted in turnover rising 25 per cent last year alone, to pounds 400,000. The company, which still employs only 10 people, is also now making a profit. Getting there has been, he says, simply a case of combining entrepreneurial flair and good quality. But to attract people to buy the product he had to upgrade the conditions in which it was made: having the factory above the shop in a room without air conditioning hardly fitted with supplying Britain's leading supermarkets. So he bought a facility on the edge of the town and put in "EC-friendly things like white walls and showers".

Waitrose came first, and in the past year, Tesco has also started offering the sausages. The deal with Tesco he attributes to the sales efforts of Ryan Human, a long-time employee of Musks who in effect runs the operation in Mr Ronaldshay's absence. Since chipolata sausages are a staple part of the Christmas dinner, the festive season is always busy for those in the trade. But Musks - which now produces three tons of sausages a week - is prepared for this, its first "Tesco Christmas", to be its busiest yet.

Nor can he see any problem in selling a luxury item. Various food scares have encouraged many members of the public to start buying better-quality products throughout the year, but especially at Christmas.

"People do not notice the extra few pence on their shopping bills," he says.

people And here is why...
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
voicesBy the man who has
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
newsFloyd 'Creeky' Creekmore still performed regularly to raise money for local hospitals
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in The Twilight Saga but will not be starring in the new Facebook mini-movies
tvKristen Stewart and Stephenie Meyer will choose female directrs
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Twerking girls: Miley Cyrus's video for 'Wrecking Ball'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
indybestKeep extra warm this year with our 10 best bedspreads
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

Trust Accountant - Kent

NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

Graduate Recruitment Consultant - 2013/14 Grads - No Exp Needed

£18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £30000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

Law Costs

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - Law Costs Draftsperson - NICHE...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?