After scribbling out a business plan on the back of an envelope we said “lets do it” so in 2001 The Crucial Sauce Company was born.
The idea was to develop a range of sauces for the takeaway and fast food markets that represented quality and value for money. At the time this particular area of food service was saturated with poor quality sauces and we saw an opportunity! We compromised profit to offer quality and value. These values still resonate throughout our business today. We started in a 1,000 sq. ft unit in Nechells Birmingham.
Within a few years we’d developed a range of 11 flavours. We virtually had Birmingham covered in sauce! Most burger vans at regional football matches were supporting Crucials, chip shops and takeaways were doing the same. Around this time was a turning point where traders upped their game and started taking pride in what sauces they offered, it wasn’t about offering a cheap sauce, it was about offering range, quality and value.
Market traders started selling Crucials at car boot sales and markets. The brand started to be known as “the sauce chippies use that isn’t available in shops”. Market traders were in essence brand ambassadors or marketers spreading the sauce around the country and getting the brand recognition. The sale of 500 bottles per day at each market or car boot sale was an average.
Aidan, one of the market traders traded weekly at 5 markets around the country; North Weald, Blackbush, Kempton, Donnington and Wellsbourne. Within 4 months his Volvo estate was too small and he bought a new sprinter van to cope. In 2008 some magic happened. Brian another market trader sold a record 2376 bottles at Polesworth Market on spring bank holiday. After witnessing this and reeling from shock Gabe the founder and MD said “we are onto something big”.
The scene was set for an assault on retail “let's take the brand to the masses” Gabe said. We launched the 500ml retail size in a 'mini me' version of our food service 1 litre and the stuff started leaving the factory in 26 pallet loads (34,000 bottles) and that wasn’t enough.
The brand started to grow in its perfect placement – The discounters namely B&M bargains, Poundstrecher, Heron Foods and The Range. One store owner referred to the brand as "retail gold”. In 2008 – 09 we grew 80% and in 2009 – 10 we grew 72%. Crucials was now being seen rubbing shoulders on the same shelves as the industry massive namely Heinz, HP Sauce and Branston. In 2012 Morrisons listed Crucials. More jobs were created at all levels.
With persistent and colossal growth, the business needed serious back up. Enter the SHS Group who acquired the business in 2013 and started to build a much needed infrastructure to take the brand to the next level.
“The brand has something magical, let’s protect it” said the new owners (click here to find out more about the SHS group). The business was now complete with a management structure that was implemented delicately as not to impede the unique company ethos where achievements are always celebrated “celebrating success is perpetual… The more we celebrate success, the more success there is to celebrate” - Gabe Gabriel.
Today the brand is still growing and the quirky bottle is still being celebrated across the UK “we are more about what’s in the bottle than the packaging, in essence the bottle is a statement”.