The owner of the Food for Thought stores has revealed his excitement at buying the popular Oliver’s Wholefood Store.
Alan Martin, who owns the Food for Thought stores in Kingston and Guildford with his business partner, Rob Steidle, revealed his delight at the acquisition, having known the Oliver’s founder, Sara Novacovic, for more than two decades, and always admiring what she had accomplished.
“We are absolutely delighted to be a part of a business of such standing as Oliver’s and we also send our love and best wishes to Sara for her next exciting adventure, whatever that may be,” Alan told Health Food Business.
He revealed that Sara approached him late last year to enquire if they would be interested in buying the business as she wanted to retire. Sara opened the doors of Oliver’s Wholefood Store in 1989 in Kew, south west London, selling fresh organic fruit and vegetables, organic groceries, and an extensive range of natural remedies and nutritional supplements. Her mission was to offer food with integrity and much of what is stocked is organic.
“I have to admit a third store was not on our radar, but when it is a store of the calibre of Oliver’s, it was an offer that we could not resist exploring,” Alan admitted. “I have known Sara personally for over 25 years and in many respects we share the same ethos, values and aspirations. We have also fought the same battles, be it B6 or the herbal directive. We have also campaigned on the organic front to bring organic products to a wider audience.”
He also pointed out that commercially, the acquisition made sense as geographically (in Surrey) it would be easy to manage.
“It is a busy store (more akin to Guildford than Kingston) so there was an opportunity to spread the costs of our marketing and professional services over four businesses [FFT, Oliver’s and Alan’s supplier business, BonPom]. The business is also a good fit in terms of the suppliers we deal with, the products we sell and the opportunities, three stores create,” he added.
The immediate plans are to bring the store up to speed with EPoS, and Alan praised suppliers involved for their support.
“It is truly heart-warming when major suppliers and distributors offer their help unconditionally to support our efforts,” he commented.
There are plans underway to launch a fresh organic and vegan range of meals from the new commercial kitchen, covering the day from breakfast to supper, and the range will be available exclusively in the Food For Thought stores.
“We have hired a professional chef to spearhead this venture and we will hopefully see the first lines appear in-store towards the end of May/beginning of June,” Alan added. “We will also continue our collaboration with the Organic Wine Club to bring organic vegan wines to Oliver’s.”