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Meet the man who knows his onions

Andrew Jones has been running Peters Produce greengrocers shop in William Street for 25 years. Here he talks about reaching the Taste of Kent Awards finals and the family-run business

aTell us about yourself?
I’m 50 years old and I live in Herne Bay with my wife Tam, my three sons and daughter. I started working as a greengrocer when I was 14 in Margate. I later spent three or four years working at Tesco. My dad founded Peters Produce in East Street in 1981, and opened a second shop in Birchington in 1983. I didn’t want to be a store manager at Tesco, I wanted to run my own shop and business. I asked my dad if I could take on a shop and he agreed. So I took on the Herne Bay shop in 1990. We moved from East Street to William Street, and this year we are celebrating being here for 25 years. I still love it here, even though it has changed. Now my sons Christian and Eliot work in here and so does my daughter Jessica.

Tell us about the Taste of Kent Awards Finals
It was really good because in order to get to the final we needed a certain amount of public recognition and votes. That’s what pleased us the most as customers and businesses in the town came to vote for us. I think people like the friendly service and the fresh fruit and veg displays. We always make sure everything is well presented and keep things neat and tidy. We’ve got produce from all over the world, but I think people like the fact we stick to local produce as much as we can. People do seem to be looking a lot more at where food comes from, how many miles it has travelled and the proof it is local. So that favours independent retail.

How has business changed?
There are fewer people in the High Street so we’re working with a smaller customer base. In 1990 the High Street was a lot busier with a lot more footfall. There were half a dozen greengrocers then, but I think we’re the only one in the town centre now. We’ve started to do a lot more for catering supply. We do have a good flow of customers who are loyal and come in regularly. But we also have to do more, so we make veg boxes and do a lot of home delivery. Back in the old days customers had to come to us, but now we have to be prepared to go to the customer. The market move from King’s Road to the town centre has been great. The town centre needed to be condensed rather than spread out too far. A big part of the challenge can be getting people through the doors. That is half the battle as people don’t necessarily think of coming in here in the first place.

What do you like about Herne Bay?
The seafront has improved a lot recently. I like the sea and walking on the beach with the dog. I’ve been here so long that it just feels like home. Whenever I go away anywhere it’s nice to come back here. The Bay Promo team do a lot of good work, and I sell tickets for their events here in store. They do a great job and they’re fantastic for the town. They’ve just got the Red Arrows. Gerald McCarthy had whispered a while ago that he thought he might have got them.

Tell us about your other hobbies
I like football. One of my sons supports Manchester United and the other two support Arsenal. We’re going up to Manchester to watch a game again soon. I’m a big Formula One fan and go to the Grand Prix every year. Last year I went to Hockenheim. I like to run and keep fit, running 5k and 10k runs. I did the Les Golding Memorial here in Herne Bay in July. It got to about half way through the race and the heavens opened. I’ll be doing the Whitstable 10k in May. I’m also a black belt at jujitsu and a qualified advanced scuba diver.

Herne Bay Gazette, March 19th 2015


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