Blaze-hit Etruria firm 'still has healthy future'
THE founder of a company which lost its offices in a devastating fire has reassured customers he is still in business.
Healthier By Farr was based in Twyford House in Etruria, which was left completely gutted by the blaze in December.
The company, which sells healthy eating cookware and runs cooking classes, lost around £50,000 of computer and kitchen equipment in the fire.
But director Gary Farr, who set up Healthier By Farr with his wife Victoria five years ago, says the calamity will not be the end of the business.
He has found new accommodation in Knutton and has contacted all his customers to let them know the company is still trading.
Father-of-two Gary had been at work when the fire at Twyfords broke out on the afternoon of Friday, December 28.
The 37-year-old, from Silverdale, said: "I was just leaving the office when the fire started. I was walking to my car when I saw smoke coming from the factory behind Twyford House.
"It took a while for what was happening to sink in. But then Twyford House caught on fire too, and it was like a bottle of pop going up. With the ferocity of the fire – it was like an inferno – I didn't expect anything to survive.
"Strangely though, we did manage to save stock which was undamaged. I had a few days where I was upset, but then I decided I'd just go at it hell for leather and build up the company again."
Healthier By Farr is an official distributor of Saladmaster cookware, which uses steam rather than oil or water to cook food. The company, which employs four people, also runs free healthy cooking courses for people suffering from diabetes, IBS and other conditions, and last year secured a £10,000 lottery grant to run classes in schools.
Gary, who previously worked in telecommunications, says he started the business after becoming a father.
He added: "I wanted my own children to eat healthily, and that's when I started using Saladmaster cookware myself. I recommended it to friends, who started using it too, and that's when I decided I could turn it into a business. At the time, there were just seven companies selling Saladmaster products in the UK."
Last year, the company had a turnover of more than £1 million, up from £450,000 the previous year.
Gary's brother Jason, who has been working for the company as a consultant for four months, said the loss of the offices had been 'heartbreaking'.
He said: "We were able to enter our offices on the Wednesday after the fire. We had three offices, and two of them were completely gutted. In one we were able to salvage one or two things.
"It was heartbreaking seeing everything destroyed. My brother and sister-in-law have built the company up from nothing, and they've made so many sacrifices to get it where it is today."
The company organised an event at Sainsbury's, in Newcastle, on Saturday to raise its profile following the fire.
Professional darts player Ian 'Diamond' White dropped in to help with the promotion – and shoppers were invited to sample 'healthy' chocolate, which featured vegetable ingredients.
Jack Such, aged 20, from Silverdale, said: "I don't normally eat chocolate because it's so sugary. But this tasted nice."
Shopper, Jackie Day, aged 41, from Talke, was also keen to support the company after hearing about the fire. She said: "I didn't know these people had been there."