Boarding Bites: turning snacking into success

Izzy Payne

Izzy Payne


From Graze to Snackfully, the world of snacking subscription services is chock-full of bitesize boxes ready to be delivered to your door for a small fee. In a market as challenging as this, how can a new brand find its niche?

We spoke to Joanne Fidler, the new owner of Boarding Bites, about how she acquired her unique business and her hopes for the future within a competitive industry.

Neverbland: So, where did your professional begin, and how did you become the new owner of Boarding Bites?

Joanne Fidler, new owner of Boarding Bites: My professional journey really started about 25 years ago when I transitioned into the financial sector, specialising in foreign exchange, with roles in Peterborough, Leeds, and London. Later, I ventured to Abu Dhabi, where I worked in Treasury for Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank for a decade and further worked for G42 as an Operations Manager. The challenges posed by COVID prompted my return to the UK, driven by the grounding of flights and our son in full-time boarding at Sedbergh School.  Subsequently, I acquired a local news agency and expanded my ventures as the owner of Boarding Bites.

NB: So, what is Boarding Bites? And what inspired you to get involved in this industry?

JF: I'm not just a business owner - I'm just a mum who understands the ins and outs of boarding school life, thanks to my son. Like any parent, I know the importance of ensuring our kids have access to healthy snacks, especially when the options outside school meals can be limited.

I took the reins of Boarding Bites with one simple but vital mission – to provide a solution for parents who want peace of mind knowing their kids are enjoying healthy snacks at boarding school.

NB: What unique aspects of Boarding Bites make it different from other snack box services?

JF: Boarding Bites is exclusively tailored for kids in education, with a focus on children at boarding schools. Our understanding of the specific needs and challenges of boarding school life allows us to curate snacks that align with the well-being and preferences of boarders.

With a commitment to promoting healthy snacking, our boxes are filled with a mix of well-known brands and thoughtfully crafted snacks, prioritising nutritional value. Some options are vegan or allergen-free, offering a healthier alternative to traditional snacks.

We've simplified the process for friends and family to send love in the form of healthy snacks. Our bespoke tuck boxes can be sent anytime or through our subscription service, scheduled four times a term. This personalised approach ensures a delightful and thoughtful experience for the recipients. We are constantly on the lookout for new, delicious, and healthy snacks to include, ensuring a diverse and exciting selection for our customers.

Boarding Bites goes beyond being a snack box service; it's a dedicated solution designed with the unique needs of boarding school students in mind, promoting health, happiness, and a touch of home in every bo

NB: What was it that drew you to get involved with Boarding Bites?

JF: Understanding the importance of nutritious snacking and the limited opportunities for it in a boarding school setting, I saw an opportunity to address this gap. The concept of Boarding Bites emerged from a heartfelt desire to provide parents with a solution that would offer peace of mind, knowing that their children could enjoy healthy snacks even when away from home.

The unique boarding school focus of Boarding Bites resonated with me deeply. It wasn't just about snacks; it was about enhancing the overall well-being of boarders and contributing to their happiness. The chance to create a service exclusively dedicated to boarding school students, offering bespoke tuck boxes filled with curated, healthy treats.

In taking over Boarding Bites, I embrace the opportunity to make a positive difference in students' lives, providing them with a taste of home and ensuring that their snacking experience aligns with the principles of wellness. It's a venture driven by a genuine commitment to health, happiness, and the unique needs of the boarding school community.

NB: How was the transition process when you bought the business? Were there any unexpected challenges?

The transition process of taking over Boarding Bites was a rewarding experience with a smooth transition. Thorough due diligence and planning helped ensure a seamless handover of the business operations.  Understanding the existing processes, customer base, and supplier relationships played a crucial role in maintaining continuity.

Ensuring a consistent supply of high-quality, healthy snacks, and maintaining relationships with suppliers required careful attention to detail.  While there were challenges, they were opportunities for growth and improvement. The key was maintaining a proactive and adaptable approach, ensuring that Boarding Bites continued its operations smoothly.

NB: How has Boarding Bites evolved since you've taken over?

JF: The evolution of the business has been driven by a commitment to enhancing a delightful snacking experience. We have made continuous efforts to diversify and expand the range of snacks offered in the tuck boxes since we started our new journey. Every single box we deliver has a different range each time. Introducing new, exciting, and healthy snacks ensures that students have a variety of options has been an essential part of our evolution as a business.

My goal within the boarding school community is to foster stronger connections. One successful initiative we've been exploring is our commitment to giving back, exemplified through the "Boarding Bites Bites Back!" a giving back initiative. This demonstrates our active engagement with the school community. For every box delivered to a school, we donate to that school's foundation, reinforcing our dedication to supporting their endeavours.

NB: How are you creating a competitive advantage against other snack delivery companies?

JF: We’re focused on our Boarding School niche. Few others are doing the same in this sector. By tailoring the business exclusively to the needs of boarding school students and understanding the importance of healthy snacks in their daily lives, we’re developing a loyal consumer base including both parents and children who love our products.

We’re really committed to fostering a sense of community within our consumer base and engaging with them to evolve Boarding Bites for the better. We actively engage with the boarding school community through various channels and building relationships with parents, students, and school administrators. We support school foundations and initiatives through our giving back program, not just to contribute to a positive brand perception, but because we actively care about our consumers and the issues they face.

We’re also continuously monitoring trends and innovations within the snacking industry to stay ahead of the curve and incorporate the best offerings into our boxes. We regularly update the snack selection to keep our boxes fresh, exciting, and aligned with evolving consumer preferences. This works perfectly alongside our subscription model, as were provide the highest quality of product most simply and efficiently for parents.  We offer scheduled deliveries four times a term to ensure a consistent, high- quality and hassle-free snacking experience for students.

NB: And there’s nothing more vital than keeping it simple for parents and their children.

JF: Absolutely. Ensuring that our service is hassle-free is so important to keeping our customers happy. I would also say that perhaps the most important value we have that gives us an edge against our competitors is our commitment to remaining transparent and honest. We believe that communication is key to building trust with our consumers, so we ensure that we’re staying completely transparent when discussing product sourcing and ingredient information.

NB: You’ve recently started collaborating with us here at Neverbland. What are you hoping to gain from working with us?

JF: Neverbland has been excellent in providing support as we try to grow the brand. The aim is for marketing strategies targeted to parents who are the primary decision-makers for snack box subscriptions by highlighting the benefits of healthy snacks and the peace of mind that comes with choosing Boarding Bites. We’re also hoping that by improving our digital marketing, we can foster new partnerships and collaborations with influencers, schools, other other businesses that could help grow Boarding Bites.

NB: What will digital marketing success look like for Boarding Bites?

JF: Digital marketing success will look like an increase in online sales and subscription sign-ups, indicating that the digital marketing strategies are effectively reaching and converting the target audience. We’re also hoping to grow website traffic and engagement, and just get more people interested in the Boarding Bites brand.

Part of our digital marketing plan is to foster some growth on our social media platforms. We’re starting to better utilise our social media to gain more attention for the Boarding Bites brand and our unique product offering. We’ll be measuring this through metrics such as follower growth, engagement, and click-through rates on posts and advertisements. We’ll also be monitoring open and click-through rates from our new email marketing campaigns that will help drive sales.

Overall, we’re striving to Improve brand recognition and awareness for Boarding Bites and establish ourselves as key players in this competitive market.

NB: The hot topic for everyone at the moment is sustainability. Does Boarding Bites have a current sustainability policy? If not, how will you look to incorporate sustainability into your business?

JF: We have a few sustainability initiatives at the moment, such as our recyclable packing. All of our boxes are totally recyclable and use no extra packaging materials. Many of the brands we source already use sustainable practices and recyclable packaging too, and we’re always looking out for this when sourcing new suppliers.

As well as this, we are regularly engaging with our community through our give-back programme, and support initiatives that align with our community’s goals. In the future, we’d love to do ‘Boarding House Social evenings’ for children at boarding schools. We’d host these events to provide educational information to students about healthy eating and overall well-being.

NB: What excites you most about Boarding Bites?

JF: For me, it’s the opportunity to positively impact the wellness of boarding school students, as well as engage with the boarding school community, parents, and students, and be a part of their lives in a meaningful way. Nothing compares to receiving positive feedback and knowing that the business is making a difference in the lives of students and parents.

NB: Where do you hope Boarding Bites to be in 3 years - what does success look like?

JF: In three years we will have successfully expanded the reach of Boarding Bites to serve a larger number of boarding schools and students across the UK or potentially in new regions. We will continue to cultivate a strong base of loyal customers by consistently delivering high levels of customer satisfaction through quality products and excellent service. Boarding Bites will occupy a significant market share within the boarding school snack delivery niche and become the preferred provider in the industry. Staying adaptable to emerging trends in the snack and wellness industries, ensuring that Boarding Bites remains a dynamic and forward-thinking brand. I’d love for Boarding Bites to be a trusted and recognisable brand, associated with quality, health, and convenience.

NB: Finally, what advice would you give to other entrepreneurs considering buying an existing business?

JF: Buying a business is no easy feat, but it can be incredibly rewarding, as it has been in my case. I would advise any entrepreneurs thinking of doing the same to conduct comprehensive due diligence on the business. This means examining financial records, contracts, customer relationships, and any potential legal or regulatory issues. Really understand the business's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Before you even get started, you need to have a deep understanding of the industry in which the business operates. Familiarise yourself with market trends, competition, and potential challenges specific to that industry.

Ultimately, you need to look beyond the current state of the business and assess its potential for growth and value creation under your ownership. You need a real sense of foresight here to identify opportunities for improvement and potential future innovation. If you’re confident that you can bring something truly special to the business, nothing is stopping you from achieving your business goals.

Related articles

Stay in the loop

Sign up to get our thoughts, work and other tidbits straight to your inbox. No spam, promise.