A SUCCESSFUL manufacturer of stone ovens, whose founder was expelled from a succession of local schools, is planning a big expansion overseas.

The Gozney Group is launching a crowdfunding campaign in a bid to raise £500,000 to accelerate its expansion and launch new consumer products.

Founder Tom Gozney set up the Christchurch-based company in 2011, making pizza ovens for restaurants and, later, fire and stone ovens for domestic gardens.

Its products have been enjoyed by the likes of Jean Christophe Novelli, Paul Hollywood and Richard Branson, and its industry clients include Franco Manca, Pizza Pilgrims and Homeslice.

The company’s growth was fuelled by the 2016 launch of Roccbox, the world’s first portable fire and stone oven for garden use.

Roccbox achieved rapid international growth and is targeting the £7.6billion al fresco dining market which it says suffers from a lack of options beyond the traditional barbecue.

Founder Tom Gozney told the Daily Echo in 2016: ““I had quite a colourful youth, where I got expelled from all my schools.”

After going into the property business just before the recession of 2008, he “decided to make some changes in my personal life and stop drinking”.

He had bought a riverside home in Lymington and his dream car, a Lamborghini Huracan, by 29.

The new crowdfunding, through the equity platform Crowdcube, will support new product development as well as international expansion.

New products will include a range of premium grade ovens for home and restaurant use and a range of related products for outdoor dining and the business-to-business market.

Chief executive Mr Gozney said: “Gozney is the true pioneer in the art of fire and stone cooking. Our vision is to bring people together to share unique cooking and dining experiences. We’ve reached an exciting juncture in this journey and are excited to deliver the next stage of growth for the business.

“We’re confident that this crowdfunding campaign will take us one step closer to realising our ambitions by enabling the delivery of the products our consumers want. It also gives our audiences the opportunity to become an integral part of the company’s future and success. We truly believe that Gozney ovens are inspiring a food revolution and with new markets opening and products in the pipeline, the future of Gozney is looking bright.”