LUXURY doughnut makers Project D have won an award for innovation after impressing Derby’s business community with their entrepreneurial spirit during lockdown.

The company, which sells handcrafted, brightly coloured and Instagram-friendly doughnuts across the region, was given the accolade by Marketing Derby - an agency which promotes the city and the wider county to attract investment.

Businesses in the city were invited to pitch their innovative ways of working, or new products and services, to fellow bondholders who voted for the ultimate winner.

Project D, which went from furloughing all its staff at the start of lockdown to requiring a bigger bakery by the end, beat off competition from 15 other companies during the week-long celebration of innovation.

Co-owner Max Poynton said: “We are absolutely thrilled and this is the first time Project D has won an award, so it’s particularly special.

“The other businesses shortlisted for the award were all incredibly impressive – some had set up from scratch during lockdown and others, like us, had reinvented their business models to navigate the pandemic.

“Project D has gone in a completely different direction since March. We brought all our furloughed workers back after just a week and we continued to make quick decisions based on a constantly changing landscape. The only thing that hasn’t changed is the quality of our doughnuts and although they are a luxury product, during lockdown people deserved a treat more than ever before.”

Prior to Covid, Project D’s business model was based entirely on selling to shoppers and students from pop-up stands at one-off events and kiosks in shopping centres and universities.

Lockdown meant the company had nowhere to sell and, after furloughing all its staff, the three owners took the decision to go back to basics by operating an eggs, milk and flour delivery service.

Bondholders learned how the company then began selling at pop-up locations - such as pubs and leisure centre car parks – which meant they could sell doughnuts alongside the essential ingredients.

Now they are operating a delivery service too, dropping doughnuts at doorsteps from Birmingham to Leeds and everywhere in between.

Marketing Derby’s commercial development manager, Lindsey Hatfield, said: “Bondholder Innovation Week came about after we were hearing some incredible stories of how our Bondholders had to radically change what they were doing back in March and how they were launching new products, services and even businesses in response to the pandemic.

“We were blown away with the 16 pitches and I am pleased it was not down to us to pick the winner. As brilliant as they all were, there can only be one winner and I am delighted that Project D has had the opportunity to celebrate their achievements.”

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