It’s been five years since Olly Kohn first featured on the front cover of The RPA’s Players’ Room magazine and while we’ve grown in that time, his Jolly Hog business has hit new heights. After starting out in the Harlequins car park in 2008, Olly along with the help of brothers Josh and Max have surged their success higher than ever expected with stalls now running at several rugby grounds across the country. Not to mention three permanent food cabins at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, it’s safe to say Jolly Hog has grown enormously in such a short period of time.
Olly you featured in the first ever Players’ Room magazine way back in 2009, can you explain how far the Jolly Hog and Sausage business has grown since then?
It’s been incredible how far we have come since! I can’t remember what I said back then but I’m sure I never predicted the business to be where it is today. We have gone from cooking sausages on a small barbeque in the car park to now having our own office at the Stoop, a HQ office in Bristol and five full-time staff. Our range has grown to incorporate large events such as Winter Wonderland and Glastonbury and we have also taken over the catering concessions at The Stoop. While on top of all this we oversee stalls at Twickenham and Saracens. So overall the business has grown beyond all our expectations which is a credit to everyone involved.
Your two brothers, Josh and Max, are also part of the business, can you tell us about their specific roles?
Josh has been here from the very start and carries out all of the operations, which includes running the match day stalls, cooking the meat and testing our product. Whereas Max came on board three years ago to help organise the business structure behind what we were doing and now does all the finance. Then there’s Tom, who’s not a brother but has always been like one and he takes care of our staffing and Human Resources, while Johnny is at the coal face and helps run operations.
How has business been lately and are things continuing to grow?
It’s been really positive we are trying to be a little bit different this season in our approach to stadium concessions and hot food. The type of people that come to The Stoop want good food and we are trying to meet that demand. While it does come with its challenges, we believe our range has been really well received and with the World Cup around the corner there’s plenty to be excited about.
Speaking of the Rugby World Cup, will Jolly Hog operate any stalls at the matches?
We definitely hope to shift as many sausages as we can throughout the tournament. Hopefully we can get some stalls up around the grounds because it will generate big business and enormous publicity for Jolly Hog. Rugby supporters all around the globe love a good hearty sausage and we would love to be the business to cater for that need.
Where does the business source all the meat from and does any product perform better than others?
We source our sausage meat from a Freedom Food Farm called Dingley Dell in Suffolk and then our roast whole pigs come from a farm in Somerset. In terms of our best sellers, there’s no secret that everyone absolutely loves our hog roast and sausage rolls because they’re delicious.
In your opinion what makes your range of food better than others?
Well firstly we take a lot of pride in our products and we know exactly where our meat is coming from. We spend a large amount of time researching our suppliers, so we know every little detail about the meat and where it’s been farmed. Our relationship with our baker is also very important and thankfully we have formed a really strong partnership which allows us to sell top quality, freshly baked bread rolls. We also highlight the need to have exceptional staff who share the same passion for our meat as we do and know our menus inside and out. Above all else, we put a lot of love into our sausages, they’re not just thrown together they have high meat content and we spend hour’s product testing each one.
In what ways do you advertise and market the business?
We try to use social media as much as possible because it’s an incredible tool if you use it in the right way. We have also been very lucky that the current players support the business and help our brand reach out to the wider community. I have said it before but the lads will do anything for a free sausage and in particular the Quins boys, Joe Marler and Danny Care have been tremendous. With the help of these guys we try and produce some funny videos to advertise the business and draw as much attention as possible.
How important do you think it is to use tools such as social media to get your message across?
We use social media for a variety of different reasons and in particular to join the conversation and understand what other people and businesses are doing. It’s also a fantastic tool to hear from customers and receive feedback on recipes and suggestions, while also posting new products and upcoming events. But I do think you need to be careful with how much you bang on because I do think you can overdo it sometimes to the point where people will eventually get sick of hearing about sausages (laughs).
You mentioned Joe Marler earlier, does he still help the business out?
Yes he still comes up here and barks orders and asks for free food (laughs). He doesn’t advertise our brand on the side of his head anymore but it did prove a very successful campaign at the time. When Joe first agreed to help out, I was very nervous because he was only 21 and to run out in front of 80,000 people with our company name shaved on his head was no doubt very controversial. I also think you have to play very well if you’re going to do that and luckily Joe did!
And finally, would you say this is the perfect career to undertake after rugby?
I wouldn’t say waking up at 4:30 in the morning placing pigs onto roast or linking 100kgs of sausages is the perfect career (laughs). But to be honest, I love being part of this team, I enjoy owning this business and I look forward to the challenges that come along the way. When I finished playing rugby I craved being successful and leading a positive life and I think this role provides that perfectly.