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Burt’s Cheese

Burt’s Cheese

Claire Burt, owner of Burt’s Cheese made the brave decision to leave full time employment to start her own business at the same time as deciding to start a family.

Burt’s Cheese is a speciality production company that creates a range of handmade soft cheeses in the form of baby truckles and large deli wheels. Claire’s cheese can be found in many places across Cheshire and beyond, ranging from small artisan shops to Booths supermarket. Its reputation for excellence has been recognised by The Observer food monthly (“Best producer 2013”) and the prestigious Nantwich Food Festival (Gold award).

Claire has a solid background in food production, with a degree in food and nutrition, and many years’ experience working in product development for a large dairy company. Part of her role there was to understand cheese, its properties, the production process and how to sell it. Claire found she enjoyed this part of the job most – so much so that she toyed with the idea of starting on her own.

As Claire and her partner had discussed starting a family, she decided that the restrictions of a full time job were too much.  So nine months after maternity leave from having her first child, she took the plunge into self-employment.

Starting to produce Burt’s Blue at a cookery school in her home town of Altrincham in 2010, Claire worked alone and quickly found the demand for her cheese was greater than she could accommodate. It soon became apparent that storage at the cookery school was insufficient and she was only able to make the product once a week.

She then took the big step of taking on a full time employee, Tom, and moving to bigger premises on a farm just outside Knutsford… and business has continued to grow. Claire and Tom are constantly busy and are currently launching a new cheese, “Divine” – a soft blue cheese decadently wrapped in vine leaves.

Claire has never looked back and talks about the flexibility she has as a mum and business owner.  “It means I never have to miss a sports day or parents evening, I can work my hours around my children and their schedules,” she says. “There are, of course, times when it gets hard. A new business demands a lot of your time, but it is worth it when you get such good feedback from customers and you can step back and be proud of what you have achieved.”

Claire also explains how much she has valued Mike’s help with her business…

”The hardest thing was understanding cash flow,” she says. “Cheese production is a long process and lots of our customers are on 28 day terms. Mike helps me plan costs effectively and see where my business is heading. There are many things you wouldn’t even think of to do with financial planning and this was a big learning curve for me.

“Now that I have expanded and the complexities of my business have changed, it’s good to have advice and be shown the bigger picture. Mike is amazing at going through how we can save money and he helps me to forecast and manage potential problems which gives me a clear outline of what I need to do to manage and develop my business. He’s fantastic!”