A KIRKCALDY firm run by a former musician hiked its turnover by 24 per cent to £4.3 million in 2017, after securing a deal to supply pre-filled popcorn tubs to 235 Asda stores around the UK.

The supply contract was won by Sephra Europe on the back of the success of its self-service popcorn machines, which were installed in 57 stores two years ago. Sephra Europe, which employs 13 people at its Mitchelston Industrial Estate base, is run by David Archer.

Having originally set up an entertainment agency serving the wedding market, Mr Archer started renting and selling chocolate fountains in 2005.

After realising the appeal of these machines, he entered a partnership agreement in 2008 with Sephra, a major global supplier of chocolate fondue fountains based in San Diego in California. This gave Mr Archer the perpetual licence for Sephra fountains in Europe. The partnership also allows Mr Archer to market new products which he develops under the Sephra name.

Mr Archer secured distributors in Europe, and then branched into the Middle East.

Sephra Europe, which has been supported by Business Gateway since 2014 and is owned by Mr Archer and his wife Cathryn, now has more than 30 distributors and exports half of its products. These products are sold or leased to customers including the Armani and Jumeirah hotels in Dubai and to in excess of 100 Dip ‘n Dip restaurants in the Middle East.

Sephra Europe continues to supply packaging and popcorn to Asda for the in-store machines. The new pre-filled popcorn tubs went on sale last autumn.

Mr Archer noted the deal with Asda had provided him with an opportunity to diversify into other packaging activities.

He said: “Over one million tubs of popcorn have been sold through our self-service machines in Asda since they were installed in 2016. Increasingly, however, stores were having a member of staff pre-fill tubs for sale.

“That led to the idea of a pre-filled cinema-style popcorn tub that shoppers could buy directly from the shelves and online. That business will now see us supply in excess of one million pre-filled tubs per year.”

Mr Archer added: “To fulfil the new order, we’re purchasing regular container volumes of paper tubs from our partner factory in China. This has allowed us to also import ice- cream cartons, other popcorn tubs and coffee cups which we will sell to the food services and catering industry.”