WILL Box started his business in his mum’s garage with a family loan of £10,000.

His fresh food and dairy business Inter Fresh is now forecasting a turnover of £4million this year, employs 25 people and has just relocated into new larger premises in Carlisle.

Will left school at 16 and went to work at Stephenson’s, a traditional grocery in Appleby which his father later bought.

After six years, he took a gap year to Australia and went to work for a couple of large food wholesalers in Brisbane.

“I came back full of passion as a young 23-year-old,” he said. Within a year he had moved out of his mum’s garage and into a small unit in Caldewgate in the city, where with an old school friend he bought a second van and started to grow the business.

He said: “I would go and meet a wagon in a layby and take the produce into my mum’s garage and put it into boxes for the customers. I would be taking orders until midnight and then up at 4am to meet the wagon or go to the markets in Glasgow or Newcastle.

"Then mid morning I would go through prices and go cold calling. I had to make it work, I had nothing else to fall back on.”

For the first few years he had a small team, including Jack Stamper, who is now a director of Inter Fresh. Soon he was supplying restaurants, cafes, hotels, pubs, the healthcare and education sectors and visitor attractions across Cumbria, up to Gretna in Scotland, Lancashire and across to the Yorkshire Dales.

Two months before the first Covid lockdown, when the business was turning over nearly £1million, Will and his friend Johnny Honeyman (now a director) launched a sister business, Boxed Fresh, aimed at the domestic and office market.

In 2021 he also opened a Kendal depot on Shap Industrial Estate to increase the company’s presence in the South Lakes market.

Last year they invested £100,000 in a new 5,000 sq ft unit on Kingstown Industrial Estate in Carlisle, merging the Kendal business into it.

Will says now both Inter Fresh, which is the wholesale side of the business, and Boxed Fresh have about 300 to 400 customers.

Brexit, increases in energy bills and the cost of living crisis have all had an impact; as has restaurants shutting without paying their bills. Until last summer he was still operating as a sole trader, but Inter Fresh is now a limited company.

He says he has no major plans for 2024... as he is marrying his fiancée Nikki in October in Majorca.