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 BurtKim 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, 13:56

While many people have been out enjoying the October sunshine it is not actually that hot compared to the rest of the month.

Yesterday, 06:00

As Sunday, October 21 marks Trafalgar Day, passionate Nelson enthusiast NIGEL CUSHION gives his views on why we should keep the story of Norfolk’s most son alive.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Norfolk’s cultural champions were celebrated in style on Friday night at a glittering ceremony at Norwich Cathedral.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Police will begin using lie detector tests on sex offenders in Norfolk to help identify previously unknown information.

Most Read

Friday, October 13, 2017

Lost children in a dark forest, a wicked uncle blinded by greed and a story passed down through generations. Weird Norfolk investigates the Babes in the Wood.

Read more
Instagram
Thursday, November 20, 2008

A trusted bank employee duped her mother into signing loan agreements for more than £25,000 to subsidise a lifestyle she could not afford.

Clare Hovell, 25, who was working as a personal banker at Barclays Bank in Brandon, had the authority to transfer money for loans and used this position of trust to take out loans in her mother's name after fooling her mother into signing documents, Norwich Crown Court heard yesterday.

Read more
Friday, October 19, 2018

Police are appealing for help to trace a man who went missing from Thetford earlier this week.

Read more
Norfolk Police
Monday, October 8, 2018

An inquest has opened into the death of a teenager found in woodland.

Read more

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 12°C

min temp: 6°C

Digital Edition

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

Show Job Lists

Newsletter Sign Up

Watton and Swaffham Times weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy