Yorkshire Dama Cheese – Enterprise

Yorkshire Dama Cheese

After travelling from war-torn Syria with her husband and three children, Razan Al-Sous settled in Huddersfield, a far cry from her former home of Damascus. Despite being well qualified for a job, having studied pharmacy, she was unable to find work because she had no citizenship.

Razan soon realized that Halloumi cheese, a market worth over £35 million in the UK, only had six UK-based producers. The majority of halloumi is imported into the country from Cyprus. Therefore, with the support of a £2,500 Start Up Loan, she decided to set up her own company from making Halloumi cheese, a popular speciality that is widely regarded as having originated from the Middle East. With limited funds, Razan’s husband, an electronic engineer, helped her reconfigure equipment so that she could create her cheese on an industrial scale. She was further aided by the fact that the small premises she took up belonged to her brother in law.

After just four months, she had already won the World Cheese Award Bronze Medal, having competed against 2,750 other manufacturers. Such was the demand for her product; it was quickly stocked in a range of stores across the UK.

She finished sixth in a Yorkshire search for the county’s best entrepreneur and David Cameron selected her for International Women’s Day as an ambassador. She has taken part in filming with the TV chef James Martin for his BBC1 programme and won the Deliciously Yorkshire Award for Best Cheese and Best New Business back in 2015. Razan has also won The World Cheese Award Gold Prize, shortlisted Best Cheese at Yorkshire DY Award, and been Shortlisted Best New Business at the British Muslim Awards.

With all of this success and interest in her product, Razan turned her thoughts to expanding to larger premises, and setting up a deli in the centre of town called Road to Damascus. Razan was honoured to have HRH the Princess Royal open the new factory in Sowerby Bridge on 25 January. They also launched their new smoked halloumi cheese at the opening. In the future, Razan plans to open a deli shop at the factory and visitors will be able to see the cheese being produced.