Omnichannel future: How Mullingar-based Multyfarnham Cookery School went from 10pc of revenue from online to 100pc in just a year with the help of its local LEO and the Trading Online Voucher Scheme.

From the exotic shores of Sri Lanka, Kamalika Ranasingha was first introduced to the culinary arts at the tender age of eight through her loving grandmother and mentor.

But like many businesses impacted by the Covid-19 crisis Ranasingha’s Multyfarnham Cookery School looked to digital and omnichannel methods of sustaining local but also winning international clients.

“Starting a cookery school and encouraging others to experience the wonders of the culinary world, as I have, was the inspiration behind Multyfarnham”

With the help of the Westmeath Local Enterprise Office (LEO,) Multyfarnham Cookery School received a Trading Online Voucher Scheme website grant which created their online platform for her classes and has allowed them to continue trading during Covid-19.

In October 2019 just 10pc of the Cookery School’s revenues came from online. By October 2020 100pc of its revenues came from online.

In November it emerged that 145 retailers had been approved €5.3m in funding as part of Irish Government’s Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme, which is administered by Enterprise Ireland.

Culinary commerce

Woman chef cooking in kitchen.

“This is the kitchen where my passion for food, its unique flavours and a zest for cooking without boundaries really started. I was totally free to explore/create and encouraged to do so”

Catering for culinary tourists, team building activities, schools to encourage healthy eating habits and one to one classes, Multyfarnham Cookery School is the perfect place for Kamalika’s passion for food, unique flavours and zest for cooking.

In response to Covid restrictions, they pivoted their business online by offering virtual cooking classes.

“This is the kitchen where my passion for food, its unique flavours and a zest for cooking without boundaries really started. I was totally free to explore/create and encouraged to do so.

“As a teenager I worked in my mum’s busy bakery and restaurant which made me appreciate the social joy food can truly bring to our lives.”

By the age of 18 she had found her true vocation and thus started her culinary adventure.

Once qualified as a chef, she joined several international five-star hotels and worked within different departments honing her craft.

Her passion for food has been acknowledged by the numerous awards and citations received by her peers.

She met her husband Dan, also a professional chef and the love of her life, her son Dineth. Together they have journeyed the world until finally settling in Multyfarnham Ireland, the place they now call “home.”

Food for thought

“Starting a cookery school and encouraging others to experience the wonders of the culinary world, as I have, was the inspiration behind Multyfarnham,” says Kamalika.

“We are confident that we can improve and provide our service to local and international clients that will help other local businesses as well”

“It’s been hard work but also extremely rewarding.”

Started in 2014, Multyfarnham Cookery School won Best Cookery School of the Year Award twice as voted by the public.

The school hosts company team building events and clients include DECOTEK Automotive Ltd and Mergon international, Castlepolard.

It also does community development cooking classes for independent living as well as working with primary and secondary schools to host cooking camps to promote healthy eating habits as well as school holiday camps for children to promote healthy cooking as a life skills.

Multifarnham Cookery School also provides tailored cookery classes for people with disabilities.

The school also hosts one-to-one classes for individuals’ dietary needs/requirements as well as culinary vacations with clients coming from different counties and countries to stay in nearby hotels, B&Bs and Airbnbs who come for the classes and to enjoy the beautiful surrounding lakes.

“I would like to thank our loyal and satisfied customers – especially the children and the young at heart – without whose support we would not be here.”

Having successfully migrated to an online offering thanks to supports like the Irish Government’s Online Retail Scheme, Ranasingha is hopeful for the future.

“We are confident that we can improve and provide our service to local and international clients that will help other local businesses as well.”

Her advice to the public is to buy local where possible. “We should all look for ‘local’ because it will keep your community happy … if you are not happy with your product at least you can yell at the owner!”

Video: How to get your business selling online

With Christmas 2020 now past, the year ahead 2021 still presents retailers with a challenge to go online to not only deal with closed premises if they are deemed non-essential but to address the expectations of an increasingly digitalised consumer.

To get the message out to SMEs, Bank of Ireland collaborated with online shopping platform Shopify as well as Pointy, the Irish platform recently acquired by Google that helps shoppers find via the internet the products they need in your physical store, and the E-commerce Association of Ireland (eCAI), to highlight the opportunities that exist online.

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 11 January 2021

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