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Former Saturday girl takes over Porthcawl deli

New owner, Jodie Smithen with daughter Freya at H&C deli in Porthcawl. Picture by Nick Treharne

In the space of just a few short years, Jodie Mae Smithen has gone from Saturday girl to owner of the award-winning H&C delicatessen in Porthcawl.

Little did a teenage Jodie think that she’d one day buy the popular deli, which was established 13 years ago by Abbé and Stuart Vaughan.

Said Jodie, “I began working at H&C when I was 16 and worked here through my GCSEs and A-Levels. I enjoyed learning and gradually gained more responsibility and valuable experience in all aspects of the business, from cooking and baking to implementing essential food industry accreditation and regulations.

“My original plan was to work here while taking my exams and then go on to university to be a midwife. But my grandfather asked why I wanted to change doing something that I love, so I stayed – and it’s the best thing I did.”

Jodie has successfully combined being a mum to two-year-old Freya with her responsibilities as H&C’s supervisor. When Abbé and Stuart said they planned to sell the business, she decided to take the leap to become the owner.

“I knew I wanted to do more and challenge myself, but I didn’t want to leave here. Neither did I want to see the business go to anyone else – I wanted to keep it in the H&C family.”

Throughout her business journey, Jodie has been mentored by Abbé and Stuart. The couple will also be helping her in the first few months to get to grips with some of the administrative work.

Said Abbé, “We’re absolutely delighted for Jodie, and we know she’ll take H&C to new heights of success. It has been wonderful to see her grow from a teenager to a confident businesswoman.

“We’ve had a fantastic 13 years at H&C, and now it’s time for someone to reinvigorate and relight the fire. We couldn’t be happier that it’s Jodie – she’ll bring all her passion and energy to the business.

“We’ve always been like family at H&C, and lots of previous staff have stayed in touch and often pop in to say hello. When they heard Jodie was taking over, they gave her chocolates and flowers. We’re all here to support her because this is not just a business; it’s a family.”

Jodie is determined to build on H&C’s excellent reputation for variety, quality and service. There is a faithful local customer base, and people are attracted to Porthcawl from far and wide to buy the range of baked goods and deli products from a host of local, Welsh, and international producers.

Also, as a young working mum, she hopes her business ambitions will show her daughter that women can achieve anything on their own.

Said Jodie, “Taking over a business can be daunting, but especially so during Covid, but I have been working on my business plans, forecasts and financing since Christmas.

I have lots of ideas of how I can develop H&C both as a vibrant part of the high street and online. I’m thinking of maybe adding a café too, and possibly seeing H&C as a future franchise possibility. I can’t wait to get started!”