Search

Grocer is thinking inside the box as fruit and veg business branches out

PUBLISHED: 17:42 17 July 2017 | UPDATED: 17:42 17 July 2017

Kim Starling has launched a luxury fruit basket business. Picture: Ian Burt

Kim Starling has launched a luxury fruit basket business. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2017

A grocer and florist has attracted blue chip clients after finding a fruitful way to diversify her business.

Kim Starling has launched a luxury fruit basket business. Picture: Ian Burt Kim Starling has launched a luxury fruit basket business. Picture: Ian Burt

Starlings of Swaffham branched out to deliver luxury fruit boxes across the UK four years ago, and has since received orders from across the world – including from computer game giant Electronic Arts (EA), pharmaceutical group GlaxoSmithKline and insurer Aviva.

With competition from supermarkets as stiff as ever, it has proved a reliable way to bring in extra revenue for owner Kim Starling, who has also capitalised on a growing number of people looking for alternatives to chocolates and flowers as gifts.

She said: “Three years ago I decided that trying to supply restaurants and caterers was difficult when there are so many big competitors. The baskets were a creative alternative to sending flowers, which it has not been so popular to send to hospitals recently.”

Originally Miss Starling aimed to sell 60 boxes a year but the business has flourished and she now sells that many every month.

Now the baskets make up around 25% of the business’s turnover and, with sales expected to top 800 units this year, Starlings is planning to find new premises to expand the venture into. She said a highlight had been when an EA representative had come to look around the shop before putting in an order for 50 baskets.

Miss Startling attributes some of her success to embracing the digital world through search engine optimisation (SEO) - a modern twist on the grocer’s traditional call to advertise their wares.

The SEO has paid off, increasing traffic to the website from 1,000 visitors between December 2015 and April 2016 to more than 7,000 a year later, with around one in 12 becoming customers.

“Investing in our online presence was one of the best decisions I made,” she said. “We have had customers from New York and Canada. It is a way for people across the world to send a nice gift to someone back home.”

The entire business is run by six part-time workers, including Miss Starling, but the expansion is expected to create more jobs.

While running a business can be tricky enough, Miss Starling has also had to contend with rapid onset alopecia, and has donated baskets to Alopecia UK as thanks for the charity’s support.

Other news

Yesterday, 21:26

Born in 1868 Prince Frederick Duleep Singh was the son of Maharajah Dueelp Singh, the last king of the Punjab, and grew up on the Elveden Estate.

Yesterday, 16:17

Snow could be on its way to Norfolk on Sunday as the temperatures plummet to below freezing overnight.

Yesterday, 11:21

A damning dossier compiled by a senior whistleblower from the region’s ambulance trust has claimed at least 40 patients died or were harmed due to delays over Christmas and New Year - including one person who froze to death.

Yesterday, 11:05

A consumer group has said two Norfolk postcodes are among the worst in the country for cash machine provision.

Most Read

Yesterday, 08:55

A man has been arrested after driving a stolen tractor through a town centre.

Read more
Yesterday, 11:21

A damning dossier compiled by a senior whistleblower from the region’s ambulance trust has claimed at least 40 patients died or were harmed due to delays over Christmas and New Year - including one person who froze to death.

Read more
Clive Lewis
Friday, October 14, 2016

A 35-year-old man who raped a mother in her own home after meeting her on a dating website has today been sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Read more
Norwich Crown Court
Monday, January 25, 2016

It is a shocking murder mystery which has kept a community wondering for more than 40 years.

Read more
Thursday, February 6, 2014

It was its down-at-heel aura that first attracted Polly Grieff to the crumbling Old Manor at Saham Toney.

Read more

Local Weather

Snow

Snow

max temp: 3°C

min temp: 3°C

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Watton and Swaffham Times e-edition today
E-edition

Show Job Lists

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter