Marc talks to us about starting local business Cullenders, big-brand competitors and his plans for the business
To kick-off our series of blogs focusing on local businesses, Kemp Marketing recently met with Marc Cullender to discuss his motivations behind the family business and what the future holds.
Cullenders are an independent delicatessen and food store in central Reigate, Surrey. They celebrated their 9th Anniversary on the 20th November and have become one of the most recognisable brands in the area. It is also where the Kemp Marketing team regularly host off-site meetings and where we will be hosting our Christmas Clients Drinks this year!
Here’s what Marc had to say:
Beccy: Firstly, congratulations on your 9th Anniversary! Can you tell us what motivated you to start Cullenders?
I had spent 12 years working as an Accountant in London and had recently been offered a fantastic new role as a Financial Controller when auditions for MasterChef came along. I have always been passionate about food and my new boss was happy for me to pursue the opportunity. Unfortunately, my dreams of becoming the next Jamie Oliver were scuppered when I messed up in the first round! However, this really ignited my drive to create something for myself.
Living in North London, both Joelle and I have always loved the deli-style restaurant model and we began to look for suitable premises. In 2008, we moved to Redhill and, in between commuting to our day jobs in London, we found the perfect low-risk venue at the end of our road. With help, we refurbished the unit and opened our first shop in November 2008.
Our reputation grew locally and six months later we were over the moon to open a second shop in Reigate (now Lads & Dads Barbers). It soon became apparent that we could take on a larger venue with more seating space for customers and when our current premises became available, we knew it was the right location for us and for the business.
Beccy: There are quite a few big-chain competitors that have opened in Reigate recently. How do you cope with the competition as an independent?
There is a lot of competition in and around Reigate. It’s definitely down to hard graft! I believe that we differentiate ourselves from the big-chains by making an effort to get to know our customers and building rapport. We have a very low staff turnover which helps to maintain consistency with customer relations and uphold the high level of service. Also, happy staff help to create a happy and welcoming atmosphere!
We are invested in the Reigate and Redhill community and take an active role with local charities, schools and other community events.
Ultimately, we care about what we do and we are really enjoying developing the business. It was always about the food but now, meeting new people every day and creating a mini-Cullenders community is an added bonus!
Beccy: As you reach your 9th Anniversary, what are your plans for Cullenders moving forward?
As a family, we now have 2 children. With our eldest now at school, Joelle has returned to work locally and allows me to manage the day to day running of the business.
Our services have expanded over the years to include outside catering for events. We also offer private dinner parties for up to 25 people and our Reigate venue is available to hire for parties.
To celebrate our 9th Anniversary on the 20th November, we have launched The Cullenders Club. Club Members will be able to buy a Deli Box or Gin Box as a one-off gift, on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. Our Deli Box will include wine, craft beer and deli treats and the Gin Box will have artisan gin, tonics and a selection from our delicatessen.
The future is looking exciting!