Sunshine Coast cheese distributor has seen business soar during COVID-19.

Say Cheese. Cheese Therapy founders Sam Penny and Helen Shadforth have seen their number of employees explode from 2 to 25 during COVID-19. Image: supplied
Say Cheese. Cheese Therapy founders Sam Penny and Helen Shadforth have seen their number of employees explode from 2 to 25 during COVID-19. Image: supplied

One business which has seen sales explode since January is a small boutique online cheese seller called Cheese Therapy. This time last year the company consisted of partners Helen Shadforth and Sam Penny who operated out of a small warehouse on the Sunshine Coast.

Today the business employs 25.

The explosion in sales started before COVID-19 led to the hospitality and tourism industries shutting down. Earlier in the year Cheese Therapy had stepped in to help out supplier Milawa Cheese whose regular summer trade had been completely wiped out by the devastating bushfires.

Sitting on two tonnes of cheese awaiting tourists who never arrived, the Milawa Cheese Company turned to Cheese Therapy to help shift the cheese to rescue their season and business. Expecting to sell 50 boxes of the specialist cheese they sold 2000, making February their most successful month ever.

When the COVID-19 shutdowns came in March it couldn't have been worse for specialist cheesemakers who build up production in time for Easter which is their busiest time of year.

Sam Penny believes that Australians want to help Australians."We know that our customers will do anything they can to help," Sam said.

This belief in his customers saw him put together special packages called Therapy Boxes, allowing the company to showcase four different small scale producers on a monthly basis. The success of these boxes and the ongoing demand from customers has led to some producers seeing an increase in sales of up to 30 per cent.

Cheese Therapy has now expanded its operations to include an additional 23 staff across the country as well as expanding its warehousing locations, with new spaces in Geelong and Brisbane.

Sam Penny envisages these changes to how Australians consume and interact with specialist local produce are here to stay and will allow producers to create more bespoke products and build stronger relationships with their customers.

This story Case Study: Cheese Therapy first appeared on The Canberra Times.