North Shields vegan pie manufacturer, Magpye, is flying high following a £1,000 Covid recovery grant from Open North Foundation (ONF).

Magpye, based on Chirton Industrial Estate and owned by husband-and-wife team, Chris and Sarah Fryer, was hit during the pandemic when street food was mothballed and, more recently, it has been impacted by rising energy and petrol costs.

However, the ONF awards committee was impressed by the firm’s business plan and the passion and determination of Chris and Sarah to build, long term.

Established in 2019, Magpye, whose customers include Forest Green Football Club, acknowledged as the world’s greenest and environmentally friendly club, makes traditional pies with palm oil-based, vegan fillings, including steak and ale and chicken, leek and bacon.

Chris, said: “We have endured some very tough times but we have a fantastic product range and we are inspired by the vast numbers of people who now identify as vegetarian or vegan. The £1,000 grant is most gratefully received from the ONF, as it will help us acquire further production equipment as we look to greatly expand from our current capacity of 500 to 600 pies per week.

“The fact we were assessed for the grant by experienced businesspeople and that they gave the thumbs up to Sarah and myself as managers and also to our plans for the future, has given us great confidence that we are going in the right direction.

“We are really just at the cusp of what is a revolution in how we all eat and the market is growing all the time. Interestingly, 70% of sales are to customers who are not vegan or vegetarian but appreciate the quality of our food and are keen to reduce their meat intake.”

ONF was established in July 2020 and is a direct response from the business community in the North East to provide financial and in-kind support to small businesses in the region directly hit by the pandemic. More recently, it has expanded its remit to support firms impacted by influences out of their control, such as the energy crisis and price inflation.

ONF relies on the generosity of companies and organisations to provide donations and has a board of directors, ambassadors and supporters, all of whom provide their services free of charge. While grant awards have featured strongly to date, it will look to increasingly provide support by way of access to top quality retraining and business advice.

David Foreman a founding director of Open North Foundation, said: “Micro businesses continue to face extraordinary pressures and the ONF is in full admiration of the resilience, fortitude and flexibility demonstrated by those running these businesses.

“However, despite their very best intentions and the desire to be independent, some of them need support and investment. The firms the ONF support must proof they have sound management, a well thought through business plan and where they see growth coming from. Magpye demonstrated to the awards committee that the business has a great future and we are sure that it will soar high.”