Huddersfield businessman Andy Needham is celebrating an extraordinary milestone – his company Approved Food’s one millionth order.

Andy, from Skelmanthorpe, set up the online surplus food and drink retail site with business partner Dan Cluderay 12 years ago. The pair had a mission – to offer direct-to-consumer deals while preventing perfectly good food from going to waste.

Andy and Dan were famously rejected on Dragons’ Den around seven years ago but since then have gone from strength to strength. Andy takes up the story: “We were approached by the Den producers and turned them down on several occasions before succumbing and agreeing to get involved.

“Our first mistake was approaching the show as a serious investment opportunity rather than the entertainment show we now know it is. Luckily, we gave them plenty of entertainment, Dan did his market pitching, I gave the anxious sweats and fluffed lines and bingo, we got 11 minutes of airtime – and luckily no offers.

“Although harrowing at the time we got a lot out of the experience. Peter Jones was extremely encouraging, he liked the business but he said it was too early for him but could be interested further down the track. We miffed Duncan Bannatyne off by knowing our numbers, so he couldn’t throw his usual tantrum.

“Debrorah Meaden came out with the line that will stick with me forever: “I take risks, but you are braver than me.” Yes, Deborah, we are – back bedroom, knackered van and a few calculated risks later, we can celebrate our one millionth order!”  

The business supports many local charities, donating more than 30,000 items last year alone to causes such as Andy’s Man Club, Huddersfield Street Kitchen and the Welcome Centre food bank.

Animal sanctuaries have also benefited, including Shelley Hedgehogs and Millhouse Animal Sanctuary.

Andy, a lifelong Town fan, also supports initiatives organised by the Huddersfield Town Foundation such as the Big Sleep-Out, both by taking part and by donating provisions.

The top five most popular products to date are:

  • Lucky boxes (lucky dip boxes with random items that sell for £5 or £1 when on offer)
  • Chocolate bars
  • Crisps (every flavour)
  • Canned soft drinks
  • Tinned tomatoes and pasta

One million orders – in numbers:

  • Seven million tonnes of food and drink are thrown away in the UK every year
  • 25,000 tonnes have been prevented from going to waste by Approved Food
  • 350,000 customers from around the UK regularly place an order
  • 70% is the average saving that can be made compared with the RRP

Did you know?

  • One of the more unusual items for sale was Donald Trump printed toilet paper. It sold out within hours of appearing on the site
  • Special Penny deals send our customers into a frenzy
  • Those with a taste for luxury can also pick up a bargain on Champagne, cognac and special edition whisky.
  • Beauty-lovers can also save on leading brands such as Nip+Fab and Laura Mercier, as well as designer fragrances from Calvin Klein, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Yves Saint Laurent.
  • We just bought Christmas crackers this morning, a little late or really early, you decide!

Andy added “We’ve come such a long way since the business began in Dan’s back bedroom. The complexity of what we do should not be underestimated – no two orders are the same and the number and type of products in each order can differ hugely in terms of number, weight, volume, type and fragility etc.

“A massive thank you goes out to our loyal customers and suppliers and most of all our tremendous colleagues who put a shift in every day to keep the whole machine ticking over effectively!”