Something you cannot get in a chain store

Peter Roberts: “Being a family-run shop in our home village has certainly worked in our favour.”

Peter Roberts: “Being a family-run shop in our home village has certainly worked in our favour.”

Wed, Jun 11, 2014, 01:00

What is special about your business? The quality of our produce coupled with the expertise of our staff means customers get a complete experience that they simply cannot get in a large chain store. We can advise them on everything from the provenance of the fish, to the best cuts and gourmet recipe demonstrations.

If something is only 99 per cent right it doesn’t go out on the counter and, after a maximum of two days, we sell on our seafood to local restaurants which ensures consistently fresh stocks.

What distinguishes you from your competitors? The way we interact with our customers. Being a family-run shop in our home village has certainly worked in our favour and customers respond positively to that aspect of our business. On a more practical level, however, we were the first to roll out unit pricing for cuts of fish as opposed to price per kilo. This empowers the customers as they know exactly what they are getting for a particular price.

What is the biggest challenge you have had to face in business? Having our first child 10 days after opening was certainly a challenge. I’m lucky I have a great woman in my life which has helped immensely.

On a daily basis, there are always different challenges and targets to meet which keep you on your toes, but thankfully it’s been thoroughly enjoyable. I’m very fortunate with the staff I have, but I’ve also been very patient in finding the right members of staff who can represent me and the business to the standards that I expect.

What has been your biggest mistake to date? Fortunately there haven’t been too many big mistakes. It’s all a learning curve; day to day and month to month. At an operational level, you learn little things by the small mistakes you make. What matters is making sure you marginally improve every time by not making them again.

What is the best piece of business advice you have received? When we opened, one of our first customers said to me that in order to succeed, you have to be prepared to expose yourself to scrutiny and potential failure. If you believe you can make a success of your idea, follow to your instinct.

What has been your biggest success to date? In my eyes, it’s not financial gain but the positive feedback I get from customers.

You know you are doing something right when people put us on a par with some of our more well-established competitors.

Our customers know exactly what they want and for us to meet and exceed their expectations is extremely rewarding.

Whom do you most admire in business and why? Michael Smurfit, not only for the longevity of his business career but for the consistency has he shown in succeeding across the wide spectrum of ventures. Many of the businesses he has invested in were on their knees.

The way he turned them around is incredible. He said that in any business, things have to get worse before they get better, and that gives me great comfort.

What piece of advice would you give the Government to stimulate the economy? Reduce PRSI. I have taken on seven staff and trained them off my own bat, and there are no incentives for small businesses to do so. PRSI payments each quarter are a huge portion of our revenue and we could really do without that pressure.

Are the banks open to lending to SMEs? Thankfully I found the bank very helpful in getting funding for ice machines, fridges etc. They were also very generous in giving an overdraft facility. From my experience, once the idea is good and the business plan solid, they are willing to give support.

What is your business worth and would you sell it? It’s worth everything to me and I would never sell it. Starting a business is always a risk. To do it in the village where you grew up adds a level of expectation, but when it goes well, it gives a feeling of immense satisfaction.

In conversation with Alex Brock

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