Barnsley takes sushi to the world
25 May 2011
Barnsley could soon be as famous for its sushi as its chops thanks to a fast growing company.
The town is home to online retail firm Sushi Sushi which sells a vast range of Japanese food and related products direct to the public and has attracted customers from all over the world, including Japan.
Now the firm, set up by Stuart Turner, has received help from business support organisation Enterprising Barnsley to target the food trade and is vying for lucrative contracts overseas.
Stuart, 31, of Gawber, studied web design at university and it was there he first developed an interest in Japanese food and culture inspired by a Japanese housemate. Then later, while travelling, he worked in a sushi bar in Australia.
On his return to Barnsley, Stuart felt that sushi was either expensive or of poor quality in the UK and decided to launch a website where people could buy everything they needed to make their own, apart from fresh foods.
The list of products has developed rapidly since the launch in 2007 and includes cookware plus authentic tableware imported from Japan. Most popular are sushi-making kits which Stuart and his team put together.
Hundreds of people have posted recipes, photographs and comments about sushi on the site and Stuart shares his expertise with customers.
Stuart said: “Sushi is the fastest growing food in the UK, growing 20 per cent year on year, and we’re growing faster than that. It’s healthy food but nothing is lost on taste.
“Later this year, we’re re-launching our retail website to offer 2,000 products which will mean we have the largest range of any online Japanese food retailer in Europe. We’re really popular in Spain and Italy and have even had an order for a silicon rolling mat from Japan!
“A second major development is the launch of our new website aimed at trade customers. We’ve found a niche in catering for companies looking to add sushi as an extra line rather than as their main focus. We’ve already supplied a machine which warms sake to a Greek cruise ship and we’ve had interest from companies in the United States and United Arab Emirates to provide equipment such as sushi-making machines.”
Business coach Mike Kilroy has been working with Stuart to develop a strategy for future growth. The help is part of the Enterprising Barnsley programme which offers free support to high-growth local companies.
Mike said: “By using innovative strategic visioning techniques, Stuart has been able to look at all aspects of his business and bring together the different elements to create an integrated offer of authentic ingredients, machinery, training and consultancy to larger customers at home and abroad.”
It is anticipated that the company’s existing staff will double to five in the medium-term.
Stuart puts his success so far partly down to being based in Barnsley because cheaper accommodation and costs mean he can beat his mostly London-based competitors on price.
Last year Stuart opened Barnsley’s first oriental food shop – called Barnsley Oriental Supplies - from his base at Longfields Court, Carlton, selling everything on the website plus Thai and Chinese products.
Stuart added: “I know we’re going in the right direction and I’m excited about the future despite new challenges that are undoubtedly posed by the recent tsunami in Japan.”
For every order over £15, Sushi Sushi is donating a pound to the Shelterbox charity which is survival supplies to families affected by the disaster.
The Enterprising Barnsley programme offers business support to Barnsley businesses with growth potential. It has attracted £2.89m investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme.
Notes to News Editors:
Stuart can be contacted on 01226 630082 or 07595 755697 (not for publication).
Enterprising Barnsley is a partnership between Barnsley Development Agency, Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre and the University of Huddersfield’s Barnsley Campus. It is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to provide an integrated programme of business support.