Inspiring Business by Sharing Success



A Midlands-based artisan doughnut bakery has been named a Small Business of 2020 by Lloyds Bank, after growing its annual turnover by three hundred per cent last year.


Project D, launched in 2018 by childhood friends Max Poynton, Matthew Bond and Jacob Watts, was forced to close its popular kiosks in Derby’s Intu centre and Burton’s Coopers’ Square, and saw its events marketplace completed wiped out when lockdown started.

But the trio quickly pivoted the business to an online model in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and now, Project D has been named a winner in the Lloyds Bank Small Business of 2020 awards.

The award is in recognition of how quickly and efficiently the firm introduced new distribution channels and pivoted its proposition in response to the challenges caused by the pandemic. The business wins a mentoring session with celebrity chef and Dragons Den alumni Levi Roots, the creator of Reggae Reggae Sauce, which will provide insight and support to help them navigate opportunities and grow their business in the year ahead.

The Lloyds Bank Small Business of 2020 competition celebrates the small and local businesses across the UK and their inspiring energy and resilience in meeting the challenges of 2020. Almost 900 businesses up and down the country were nominated by their local communities and 24 winners were picked based on how creatively and quickly they adapted to events since March, and how they went over and above expectations.

After buying eggs from a local farmer to launch a local egg delivery service, Project D realised it could better serve the community through pop-up stands outdoors and by extending its range to include key baking ingredients which were in huge demand – as well as its own doughnuts!

The home delivery service expanded rapidly, with the tasty treats gaining recognition for putting a smile on people’s faces during lockdown.

The business, which started out by selling doughnuts at food events and festivals across the Midlands, has recently relocated to a significantly bigger 11,000 square foot bakery in Derby. Its team is operating round-the-clock to keep up with rapidly increasing customer demand, while also ensuring that that every doughnut sold is freshly baked.

Project D has also recently opened a distribution centre in Leeds to help better service customers in the North of the UK, and has set its sights on conquering the London market, with ambitions to open a shop in the heart of the city later this year, once consumer footfall returns to the Capital.

The business currently employs 55 people but is looking to recruit 100 additional staff this year, to help roll out its ambitious growth plans.

Project D co-founder Max Poynton said:

“At the start of lockdown we sat down to work out what on earth we were going to do to make sure Project D didn’t become another victim of the pandemic. Little did we know then that the crisis would present us with so many opportunities.

“We quickly ramped up our online offering so our die-hard doughnuts fans could still enjoy our products at home, and it’s gone from there - the surge in appetite we’ve seen has been incredible.”

Max added:

“We’re hoping Levi will take a good look at what we’re already doing and offer some guidance on how to scale a business, and what more we can do to improve our model in general. We had a very busy Christmas and 2021 has got off to a strong start, but we’re keen to keep replicating the success and growth we achieved last year.”

Project D has a rotating range of 250 doughnut flavours, which it delivers directly to the doorsteps of sweet-toothed fanatics from Yorkshire to Milton Keynes, and via pop-up shops around the country.

The business has made doughnuts for a Love Island after-show party, London Fashion Week and has even supplied its tasty treats to staff at Windsor Castle. Its top selling product is the ‘Bad boy Biscoff’, which has a caramel base and blended Lotus Biscoff crumb.

Gareth Oakley, Managing Director of Business Banking at Lloyds Banking Group said:

“Project D epitomises the spirit and determination that we’ve seen from a legion of small businesses right across the country, who have met – and overcome – the extraordinary challenges of 2020.

“These awards recognise the significant advancements made by fledging firms in the most unpredictable and tumultuous of markets and also shine a spotlight on the heart-warming contributions they’ve made to their local communities. In so many cases, their products have brought smiles to the faces of others, when it was most needed.”

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