After taking over the Heinz baby food factory in Kendal, entrepreneur Ross McMahon has developed a new business with an international reputation.

With a £6m Chinese contract secured, his Kendal Nutricare business is booming although its unique infant formula products have yet to hit the UK market.

Speaking to inTheBay/in-Cumbria as part of our “10 minutes with” series, Mr McMahon tells how the business sets itself apart from the competition.

So, who is Ross McMahon?

"I’m originally from Ireland and am the owner, sole shareholder and chief executive officer of Kendal Nutricare.

"I bought the brand from HG Heinz over 12 months ago.

"I originally studied agricultural services at University College Dublin, and have spent 27 years in food processing.

"I can speak German and spend a good part of my career in Europe, from my mid thirties to my forties I worked in California for Java City Coffee, which sells coffee wholesale to over 1,200 sites across the US."

How did you come to set up Kendamil?

"When I came back to Europe I worked with Aramark looking at their supply chain processes and in doing that I reopened some of my connections in Asia, where there was an increased demand for infant formula.

"I needed to bring in a member of staff to be based in China to work with the state-owned Orient International Holding Shanghai Foreign Trade Company and keep the relationships going.

"They’ve been incredibly helpful in reassuring HG Heinz, who owned the company before I did, that they could have confidence in my takeover of the business.

"We are the only UK based, infant formula manufacturers making the kind of product that we are using whole milk rather than skimmed or powders."

How have the last 12 months gone?

"Since taking over the company we’ve found lots of nuggets in the firm, specifically the incredibly loyal workforce who have come through various owners from GlaxoSmithKline, Boots and HG Heinz.

"With an average working life of 25 years, there was a wealth of experience so we had a lot of discussions about what the USP of this new company could be.

"We discussed going back to the traditional method of using whole milk heat-treated here to make whole-fat infant formula

"Most other manufacturers sell the cream at a premium, and use skimmed milk and substitute vegetable oils.

"So we’re making a fuller, richer product that caused less digestive problems and aids infants to sleep sounder.

"We’re surrounded by the Lake District, which is a fantastic fresh atmosphere for food production. We’re also in the largest county for milk production."

What new products are in the pipeline?

"The challenge for us now is to establish the business in the North West. We sponsored the Kendal Festival of Food and had a baby chill out zone and we’re hoping to go into Booths supermarkets in late July.

"Now that we’ve manufactured our whole-milk formula, we will be developing a goat-milk formula for stages one, two and three, early next year.

"We’ll also be developing a Kendalife range for adults from working age to retirement, which will be enriched with vitamins and supplements give people more energy.

"We attended one of the world’s largest food trade shows in Dubai on the British Pavilion and we are now working on contracts for companies in North Africa and the Middle East."

What does the future hold?

"While doing this we continue to manufacture products for Heinz including their new ranges which we package and box in house and send out to thousands of locations across the UK.

"The workforce has grown too, since taking over the staff number has grown from 88 to 110 and we have worked on a growth plan with Cumbria Growth Hub to get that number to over 130.

"We will also be opening a factory shop in July and developing an e-commerce site that will be able to deliver to national and international customers."