We spoke to proud owner Nick Shearer to find out a little more about his business.
This week we’ve got another foodie to add to our list of billboard winners, our latest victor Nick Shearer - the owner of a successful deli in Forest Row.
Nick picked up a billboard in the second wave of our competition, after catching our eye with a memorable entry and his interesting business. Keen to learn more about him and Shearer’s Fine Foods we caught up for a chat…
What was the motivation for starting your business?
It was always an ambition to have my own delicatessen, and I wanted to test myself in building a business from the ground up. I’ve gained a lot of knowledge and experience over my career, and by creating Shearer’s Fine Foods I could put this into action.
When did you first start your business?
I opened the doors to the Shearer’s Fine Foods on 7th December 2013, although there was a significant amount of groundwork involved to get the business on its feet.
First we had develop a business model, and then, implement it! For starters finding suitable premises and researching the right suppliers.
How do you promote your business?
The bulk of my promotion has been focussed locally, in and around Forest Row, so we’ve advertised in local publications and supported the village pantomime. We try to collaborate with village businesses on local events, and we’ve even developed ‘village recipes’ whilst working together.
Elsewhere we have a website, and I’ve got my own twitter account, and we do a fair bit of email marketing via the Shearer’s Fine Foods newsletter. In addition to this we’re also a member of Ashdown Forest Tourist Association, and we try to create a busy calendar of in-store events.
How important a role do you feel small businesses like yours play in your local community?
Small businesses are essential to the local community. We offer something different to local residents and keep more of their spend locally, and we can boost employment in the local area whilst supporting other local businesses. I sell products from several local producers and I’m extremely proud to do so.
We tend to do more for the local community in terms of supporting local events, and we can be more responsive to customer requirements, such as the sourcing of new products.
Why do you think Forest Row is a good place to run a small business?
A lot of people that I’ve met in the area see the benefit of good local businesses, and are eager to support them ahead of our bigger competitors. Such is the support I’ve seen more businesses setting up – it’s had a bit of snowball effect!
In terms of retail there are a lot of smaller units that are suitable for small businesses, and the presence of other small businesses only encourages others to set them up.
What is the most difficult part of running a fine food shop?
I think the hardest part is the need to work competently in every business function, including procurement, stock management, demand planning, HR, finance, merchandising, range planning, marketing, advertising, sales and law. You can’t hide from the areas and tasks that you have no experience of or simply dislike doing - you have to get on with it. It’s obviously possible to outsource some of these areas but as a small business, finance doesn’t always allow this.
What are your plans for your business over the next five years?
Big! Developing the reputation of the business is key to me and I intend to grow our range of products and services.
I want to add things like ecommerce, home delivery, evening tasting events and take home food, and to do further work with local suppliers and producers, as well as the local community. I’m keen to build on the good work we did last year to bring our St Nicholas event to fruition, and to look at introducing a second retail outlet if everything goes to plan!
Do you have any advice for those considering starting a business like yours?
The most important thing is to be prepared for the practicalities. In particular the hours you’ll need to work as well as the funding you’ll need, and to have a plan for the initial period in who’ll support you with decisions and issues. To help with this I would recommend talking to other small business owners, ideally in the same field as you. You’ll be surprised at how many people are happy to talk to you.
Why did you enter the competition?
I like the challenge of a competition and coming up with a memorable phrase is something I enjoy doing.
How will this billboard help your business?
The advertising will help to increase the awareness of my business across East Grinstead and beyond. I believe that I have a distinct product range that can’t be found easily locally, meaning that people will be willing to travel to come and visit the shop.