Mammy Jamia's preserves - old family recipes from rural Albania to the Wirral
PUBLISHED: 00:00 15 May 2013
A Wirral couple are toasting the success of their preserves business which uses old family recipes, as Paul Mackenzie reports
From remote rural Albania to the brightly lit shelves of supermarkets in the UK, Mammy Jamia’s preserves are proving very popular. The recipes were passed down through generations of Sajmira Cairns’s family and were then brought to a wider market by Sajmira and her husband Andrew from the Wirral.
The couple met while he was working as a football coach in southern Europe and she was a translator. They married after a whirlwind romance seven years ago and moved to Spittal near Bebington. Sajmira, 27, is now an analyst for an investment management firm in Liverpool while Andrew works in sales for a sports medicine company, but in their spare time they have developed the old recipes into a winning business.
The Mammy Jamia preserves are now available from Booths, Asda, Tesco, Waitrose and Ocado and Andrew said: ‘They’re all Sajmira’s mum’s recipes. There is so much fruit in her garden and she makes wonderful things. We brought some back for my family to try and looked in the supermarkets to see if they stocked anything like them but the shelves are mostly filled with strawberry and raspberry.
‘We thought we’d give it a go so we made 600 jars and took them along to the indoor market in Ellesmere Port and we sold out on six consecutive Saturdays. We didn’t know if we would sell one jar, let alone 600 and now it’s stocked in supermarkets – it’s unbelievable really.’
The couple, who are planning to move to Huntington in June, currently have eight flavours in their product range but are now looking at ways of developing their business further and are considering introducing biscuits and gift sets.
Andrew, a former pupil of Wirral Grammar School, added: ‘We’re hoping to transform the jam market by introducing new and unusual flavours.’ The range includes fig preserve, apple, rhubarb and even quince.
‘We think people are ready to move away from strawberry and raspberry jam flavours and try something different with their toast, cheese or even yoghurt. The challenging thing for us at the moment is that we’re doing this in our spare time while we both have full-time jobs.
‘We decided to target the supermarkets to start with, but we are now looking to take our products into other areas including delis, farm shops, garden centres and hotels and restaurants. We are also in conversation with potential export partners to take Mammy Jamia’s into Europe, the US and the Middle East.
‘We have not had any outside help or investment, so we’ve spent money from our own savings to develop the business. Some investment might help us take it to the next level which is difficult for us when we’re both working long hours and our careers are very important to us. Our employers have been great, very supportive. It is still early days but maybe at some time in the future one of us might devote ourselves to the preserves business.’
And Andrew, 35, added: ‘It is nice to know we have a range of products that people are enjoying and we’re very excited about the potential. The last 12 months have been an absolute whirlwind. Often small brands will start from the bottom up picking off delis and farm shops, but with busy full-time jobs we did not have that option.
‘Instead we decided to aim high from the start and target the big supermarkets and we have proved that if you have a great product and an interesting point of difference you can make amazing things happen.’
The jams are manufactured and distributed by Opies at Sittingbourne in Kent, and cost £2.39 for a 320g jar.