An independent convenience store based in south west London has become the UK market leader for Czech and Slovak specialty food and drink imports.
Husband and wife entrepreneurs Anish and Minal Shah have carved a niche which has seen their cornershop business near Richmond-upon-Thames grow into a £2.5 million retail and wholesale business.
Consistent year-on-year growth of over 10% over the last seven years has cemented Halusky as the no.1 supplier of Czech and Slovak food and speciality products to the UK market.
Surpassing 10,000 registered online customers has certainly played its part. It is, however, as the primary distributor to more than 10 wholesalers, and direct to over 120 independent retail stores across the UK, that has truly secured Halusky UK’s position as market leader.
Anish says: “From a simple mail drop to UK wholesalers and retailers offering some of our bestsellers back in 2006, including chocolate wafer biscuits and Czech beers, we started to grow our business. And mostly through word of mouth. We had first year turnover of £50k, and have seen the business grow steadily to over £2m a year now.”
The Shahs’ achievement has certainly not been an overnight success. Their story can be traced back to 2001. Shortly after arriving in the UK from Kenya, they bought their shop in East Sheen, SW London.
The local convenience store already had a strong 20-year history of serving the neighbourhood. So it provided a good base from which to start looking for new business opportunities. When the EU expanded by in 2004, many workers came from Slovakia and Czech Republic.
Anish and Minal realised that there were not many places catering to the needs of this growing community.
The Shahs initially imported Czech & Slovak goods at a small scale via a local UK wholesaler. Halusky UK quickly established a reputation for reliability and quality, albeit with a relatively narrow range of goods.
Anish and Minal saw the chance early on to rapidly scale up their business. They realised two things, however: they needed to be online, and to have direct relationships with suppliers in Czech Republic & Slovakia.