The boss of a catering firm says it has managed to expand its reach during lockdown after pivoting its business to serve the public.

Caterite Food and Wine Service, based in Embleton, near Cockermouth, began running a click and collect service for members of the public as the hospitality business shut down in March.

It was also forced to cut 25 jobs from its workforce of over 170 in June, although some of these staff have now been able to return to work.

Group managing director Lorcan Byrne said its trade business had returned to normal levels since the hospitality sector reopened.

In the coming weeks the business is to begin delivering to Liverpool and Southport and has also been approached by customers in the North East.

Lorcan said some of this new trade had been driven by the direct-to-consumer operation, which had seen customers spread news of the business by word of mouth.

“A lot of our staff worked very hard over lockdown to open new supply routes and we had additional product ranges and services for customers to be able to use,” he said.

“I am thrilled with how we’ve responded and been agile enough to come out and be in a good place over the winter.

“We had such a success with the click and collect that it allowed our supply chain to keep rolling into Embleton and now we’ve been able to turn the taps back on.

“Our supply chain has got stronger than it was pre-lockdown. One of the main reasons we want to develop the Caterite retail side of the business was because we knew when hospitality picked back up we would have to support customers in just the same way as before and a big part of that is our fresh offering.

“We needed to make sure we were still getting multiple deliveries to make sure that was on our shelves and ready to be used and the local people using the service helped us achieve that.”

However, he warned the Eat Out to Help Out scheme may have created an artificial boost for the hospitality sector in recent weeks.

“I think a better view of how the hospitality industry is performing will be September and then into October,” he said.