With a background in the Navy, Sam Jeffs – along with partner John-Paul “JP” Jeffs – launched two businesses in rapid succession – and both soared during lockdown, despite being very different ventures.
JP and Sam met 11 years ago when Sam was in the Navy, and after several globe-trotting jobs, JP opened a crafting shop in Knutsford. Starting wasn’t without its challenges.
“We opened the shop – Cheshire Quality – four weeks before Boris Johnson saying everybody should stay at home,” says JP.
Armed with a loan from X-Forces, the shop opened in the market town of Knutsford. “That’s where X-Forces came in to help us with the initial loan because leasing a store in a market town is not cheap.”
The store stocks craft products from over 60 local businesses and started a local delivery service with Sam driving a van in a bid to operate during lockdown.
From creating and delivering Father’s Day hampers to birthday craft gifts, soon other businesses were asking to hitch a ride on Cheshire Quality’s van.
“So we had some money left over from X-Forces, which we used to buy the van. And we started doing the Cheshire Quality deliveries and picking up a little bit with our suppliers. So our suppliers were keen on us delivering for them as well. And I realised there’s a market here for local, same-day deliveries at a reasonable cost. So we set up Peregrine.”
The breakthrough moment for the second business was down to Amazon and the huge surge in online shopping, with Peregrine winning a contract to deliver for Amazon from its Chester logistics centre.
It has allowed the business to scale rapidly, growing from five vans and ten drivers to 25 vehicles and over 50 drivers in a single month.
The business has since invested in its first HGV and expanding its operations nationally and overseas.
“Don’t procrastinate and take calculated risks,” says Sam. “A lot of people focus on business plans, and they put so much detail in their business plan, not realising that the business plan is a fluid document and can change from day to day.
“The biggest challenge was getting other people to understand my transferable skills,” he adds. “I could talk to someone about how a nuclear propulsion system works, which wouldn’t make any sense to most people. But, it’s useful even now for something that we’re doing. Because we’re trying to become the first zero-emission transport company, and I’m looking down the hydrogen route.
“Hydrogen supply isn’t very good up in the North West, but you can generate hydrogen easily from water and electrolysis. And I understand that because on the submarine, we have an electrolyser, which splits seawater up to give us oxygen to breathe, and we ditch the hydrogen, except this time, I want to reverse it. So we get the oxygen and use the hydrogen.”