Cape Herb & Spice Company: Choosing a Growth Strategy

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Irene Ivy-Schuurmans and Dale Kneen started the Cape Herb and Spice Company in 1992, selling their wares from a modest barrow at the Cape Town Waterfront. They were housemates with full-time jobs, but both were passionate about cooking “wacky, creative and unusual” gourmet food with interesting herbs and spices that weren't commercially available. “It was while hunting for a specific herb for a specific dish we wanted to make that we stumbled onto this idea for a business,” recalls Kneen. “We thought it was unlikely we were the only foodies out there who wanted the perfect herb or spice, or combination of them, to make the perfect dish.” So the Cape Herb and Spice Company (CH&SC) was launched, and Ivy-Schuurmans and Kneen began locating and selling those speciality herbs that were so difficult to find. They never imagined then that 14 years later they would have an international, multi-million rand company and that this once-small business would reach a stage where it could go one of two very diverse ways: keep up its speciality status or become a mass producer of herbs and spices.

Ivy-Schuurmans, now the new product development director, and Kneen, who heads up the procurement department, are yet undecided, but know that the wrong decision could be the death-knell for their business.

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