In Conversation With Tony Farmer

Tony Farmer is a Corporate Finance Partner in the accountancy practice of Garbutt and Elliott. He is based at their York Office at Monk’s Cross, where I went to have a chat with him about the forthcoming Garbutt + Elliott Yorkshire Food Entrepreneurs Awards 2019.

My first question was the blindingly obvious one about how the firm came to set up the awards in the first place. He replied that they have a wide client base in the food and drink industry and so understand just how great a contribution to the economy it generates. There are a lot of businesses which are run by people who are passionate about the food and drink they produce and then there are those who treat the enterprise as a business as well, spending time on the other entrepreneurial activities such as marketing and development.

Garbutt and Elliott feel that these people deserve to be recognised and so the awards came into being. He also said that as a firm who makes its money from servicing the industry, they feel that it is only right that they put something back into it. Having given me the reply which I suspect he thought that I was expecting he went on to throw me a curve ball. “We also want to have a bit of fun, and this gives us ample scope to do that.” A fun-loving accountant; who’d have thought it!   

Apart from the usual accountancy tasks of submitting returns etc, Tony said that the firm helps clients raise money to expand their businesses both by web-based methods such as crowdfunding, together with more traditional means in order that they can fulfil their potential. He added that it was very gratifying to see an innovative business succeed.

I had been perusing the shortlisted entrants and asked him if he could account for the bulk of those named being based in North and East Yorkshire (please excuse the pun). Apart from five concerns in Leeds:

Dine Delivered
Leeds Cookery School
North Brewing
The Village Bakery

there are no other West Yorkshire finalists and South Yorkshire has just two, both from Sheffield. He was as mystified as I was and said that every part of the County has been canvassed and encouraged to put nominations forward. They have used all methods available, including trade press and social media, but there was little response from the areas mentioned. He quite rightly said that you can only draw up a short list from firms who enter.

We went on to chat about a couple of the categories, such as the Yorkshire Grit: Resilience Award and he said that it is bestowed on someone who has conquered adversity to carry with their business against all odds. Last year’s prize went to Dyls, a cafe in York which had been flooded three times but keeps on going no matter what. He said that it also illustrated how the awards were aimed at all businesses, no matter how big or small, and one contender in the same category this year is The Village Bakery in Bramhope.

Having googled all of the shortlist I could imagine that there would have been no shortage of volunteers to sample the wares of the various gin, beer (and even one whisky) producers but who got to taste the baby food? He was a little reticent about giving me an answer, but did assure me that no underage child labour was involved. What with his sense of fun, I wouldn’t bet against his downing a few spoonfuls himself.

The Awards Ceremony for the Garbutt + Elliott Yorkshire Food Entrepreneur Awards 2019 will be held at the York Castle Museum on Thursday, 7th March, 2019. Should you need to contact Garbutt and Elliott on Friday, 8th, I suggest that you don’t do it too early in the morning.  You know what these accountants are like when they are let loose!

Photograph by Stan Graham.

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