Craig Tomkinson of Thyme

Thyme for change

Craig Tomkinson decided to launch Thyme after spotting a gap in the frozen food market for high quality, wholesome, “as good as homemade” frozen food.

Working in the food industry for two decades, his previous role saw him work at leading frozen food manufacturer 2 Sisters as the company’s finance director however he always had a desire to be his own boss.

“I’ve always seen myself running a business of my own in the food and drink sector and when I was 10 years old I used to sketch out designs for supermarkets,” said Craig.

“Fast forward 20 years, my career had taken off very quickly and I had never really stopped to consider and follow my true ambitions. One day I woke up and realised I had to do something about it. 

“At that time the obvious opportunity was for me to go into the food and drink sector through frozen food – a category which I believe presented an opportunity that hadn’t really been tested properly by the industry.

“It’s clear that people trust their freezers, because they’re more than willing to freeze leftovers, but it seems they don’t trust what they can buy from their local supermarket to put in the freezer. I wanted to turn that on its head and deliver a genuine ‘farm to fork’ proposition.”

Once he had decided what he wanted to do, he spent two years researching and launching the company, which is based at Hatton Rock, between Warwick and Stratford.

This included developing recipes, sourcing ingredients, recruiting suppliers and setting up a distribution network.

After two years of hard work, Thyme’s products are now available through its website and the company has since sold thousands of meals.

The Thyme range includes “family favourite” ready meals, filled pastas with sauces, gourmet burgers and steaks, complete meal solutions for special occasions and pre-portioned fruit, vegetable and protein smoothie mixes.

He added: “Thyme offers simply fresh food, frozen – delivered to your home or office. We sell artisan food and drink, all prepared by a carefully selected network of makers, and frozen to preserve at its best, with no nasties.

“Our products are freshly prepared, slowly cooked and quickly frozen – using nature’s way of preserving to give families the opportunity to enjoy wholesome food without spending hours in the kitchen.

“Then we use our innovative ‘thyme capsule’ packaging solution to deliver them to the customer at home or work. Our products will stay frozen for 27 hours after leaving our freezer – so there’s plenty of time to get it to your freezer.

“In a nut shell, our mission is to make it easier for families to eat better, waste less and save time. In the modern world, where there are so many competing interests on people’s time, the freezer is the secret weapon in a family kitchen.

“By freezing prepared and part-prepared meals and ingredients at their best, we can make it as easy as possible for people to enjoy wholesome food that is as good as homemade.

“Frozen food has not always had the best of reputations, but it’s time to change perceptions because it doesn’t have to be low quality. We aren’t competing for a share of customers’ wallets, we’re competing for a share of their time, and we’re aiming to use up as little of it as possible.”

Since its launch late last year, Thyme has already shipped thousands of its meals to customers across the UK and Craig is delighted with how the company has grown. Not only is it making an impact on the business world – but it is also making an impact on people’s lives.

He added: “For every one of our gourmet, oven-ready Christmas Dinner Meal Boxes we sold last year, we donated a turkey and a Christmas pudding to a local family in need for Christmas Day. We ended up feeding close to 1,000 people that otherwise might not have enjoyed a Christmas Dinner.”

Looking forward, Craig is now hoping to turn Thyme into a household name in the frozen food sector. He concluded: “I hope to see busy families using their freezers more and fridges less to reduce food waste and to reduce the pressure to cook from scratch seven nights per week. I want Thyme to be the flag bearer of that movement.”

Published: 15 March 2017

Article by Bryce Wilcock
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