A family affair: how Farndon Fields gets it right

Thu Feb 09 2017

Business landscapes can change rapidly, and companies need to be adaptable if they are to keep their seat at the top table.

One of the success stories is Farndon Fields. It’s a family business that was started by Kevin Stokes as a small potato farm in 1983.

He still manages the business today, along with wife Milly. She uses her design background to great effect, creating the brand vision and bringing it to life through its bricks and mortar presence.

Daughter Nicola came into the business three years ago as Marketing and Branding Manager. She’s responsible for raising awareness of Farndon Fields, along with managing its digital channels.

From seed to success - check out the Farndon Fields story:

Together, the family have reaped the rewards of a number of expansions.

 Farndon Fields timeline

“You have to know what the customers are asking for,” says Nicola.

“You don’t really know for certain whether it’s the right time to expand, but you listen to customers, and you watch the market.  Then you have to take the risk.”

Making the most of the harvest

A key part of Farndon Fields’ success has been their ability embrace the changing nature of payments over the years.

“We want to move with the times,” says Nicola, who says that Farndon got a contactless terminal as soon as it was available. With recent Barclaycard research showing that 19% of people feel annoyed if they can’t pay by contactless*, that’s a smart move in more ways than one.

The Farndon Fields, Nicola Stokes, Marketing and Branding Manager

Nicola also says that Farndon is accepting Apple Pay, and that some consumers are specifically asking for it. James McDonald, Barclaycard’s Head of Strategic Initiatives and Innovation, expects mobile to become the default payment choice for many and it’s more evidence that staying on top of new technologies can be crucial.

“From a business perspective, you want to have the most reliable and secure solutions and it’s the latest developments that will have that,” says Nicola. “From a customer perspective they expect that, if other shops have the latest payment technology, we will have it too.”

Cultivate the rewards

There are also many other moving parts to deal with when running such a successful family run business. Here are Farndon Fields’ top tips to success:

  • Work to a budget: Making sure the financial side of things doesn’t boil over is one of the key challenges facing any business undergoing change.

  • It’s good to talk: Clear speaking between management, the wider team and the customers is a core part of success, Nicola says. “We have great communication and we support each other. The challenge in a family business is that it is difficult to switch off – it’s not easy talking about business at the dinner table every night.”

  • Maintaining family values: Farndon Fields now employs 60 people, and Nicola says a lot of time goes into sowing the values of the business. “This is always a challenge as you grow and it’s the hardest thing to get right.”

  • Delegation: There’s an inevitable need to hand over some control if the business is to grow beyond a certain size. “It’s hard to step back and learn to manage a large team, but it’s vital,” says Nicola. “It’s a huge challenge, and it involves learning new skills.”

  • Succession planning: At some stage, this is vital. How do you make sure the person in charge of the business after you will be able to keep up the good work? “Kevin is working on this right now,” says Nicola. “It’s really difficult, but so important to get right.”Don’t expect to be able to trade from anywhere and find the same level of success. Make sure you choose a location that brings in a suitable audience.
The Farndon Fields, Nicola Stokes, Marketing and Branding Manager

Speak to us today to find out how we can help your business – 0800 029 4261*


*An online survey of 305 retail business owners aged 18+ was conducted between 25 and 27 August 2015. A separate online survey of 2,003 UK adults aged 18+ was also carried out between 25 and 27 August 2015. Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria. All research was conducted by Opinium Research.

Please note that the views expressed in this article are personal opinions. Barclaycard cannot accept any responsibility or liability for reliance by any person on this article or any of the information set out in it.

*Calls to 0800 numbers are free from UK land lines and personal mobiles, otherwise call charges may apply. Please check with your service provider. Calls may be monitored or recorded in order to maintain high levels of security and quality of service

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