Derek Thomas welcomed 34 businesses including Kernow Inferno, St Ives Cider, Holy Vale Wines from the Isles of Scilly, and Cornishwear from Lamorna, to the Houses of Parliament. This unique event, organised by the West Cornwall MP, enabled businesses from the far South-West to meet top London buyers.
Many of the businesses that made their way from Penzance to London are used to selling their products at popular local markets and to small retail outlets. The event was organised to give access to new customers including London hotels, retail outlets and food and drink merchants.
Great Western Railway supported the event by transporting several tonnes of merchandise, drinks and fresh food.
Purchasing managers from London's businesses visited the event and took time to discuss with West Cornwall exhibitors about their products and the kind of service they can expect. These included Mayfair Luxury Wedding Cakes, Moxon's Fresh Fish, The Ritz Hotel, Rhubarb FD and Fortnum & Mason.
Lucy Perry, Bakery Buyer, Fresh Department of Fortnum & Mason, said 'Thank you for hosting us so well. It was lovely to see (and taste!) some of the food Cornwall has to offer. Cornwall does have some of the best food and drink in the country! Very exciting.'
The event received wide media support all keen to witness London Mayor Boris Johnson cut the cake, made especially for the occasion by Peboryon Cakes. Boris, who came to support Derek Thomas and meet Cornish producers, talked of the great opportunity the new express freight service provided for residents of London. They can now purchase Cornish produce, and the Cornish Express Service reduces harmful emissions by taking freight off the road and putting it on existing rail passenger services.
Derek Thomas said, 'It was a great honour to welcome so many businesses from West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to the Houses of Parliament. There are so many people making high quality products that are perfect for the London market and it was a privilege to introduce London purchasing managers to producers from my constituency. The Cornish Express Service is a remarkable example of people working together in the interest of West Cornwall and it is a privilege to be a part.'
Mr Thomas also invited the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Sajid Javid, who spent almost an hour talking to producers. Sajid, in his speech to the gathering, spoke of his firm commitment for small entrepreneurs and support for small businesses. He spoke of the work of Government to introduce legislation to deal with companies that cause so many problems for small businesses by making late payments and the Enterprise Bill that will make it easier for small businesses to flourish.
The Cornish Express Freight Service is currently transporting light freight into London and Derek Thomas, local business leaders and Great Western Railway are working to ensure this service is accessible to businesses in Penzance and the far South-West.
GWR General Manager West David Crome said:
“We at GWR recognise the value of rail to the local and national economy, and that is why we are so keen to source and to use local suppliers as much as we can - helping to maintain and invigorate businesses in the communities that we serve.
"We are incredibly lucky to provide services in Cornwall; allowing us to make the most of Cornish produce; and this event is a very real show case of the quality of and breadth of what Cornwall has to offer."
David Crome, GWR and Jeff Screeton, Intercityrailfreight
List of Exhibitors
Speciality Seafood Limited
Holy Vale Wines
Curio Spirits Company
Sarah and Finn's
Lizard Peninsula Grass Fed Beef
W. Stevenson & Sons LTD