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24 Jun 2024

Speciality sourcing: Insights from independent retailers 

Speciality sourcing: Insights from independent retailers 
Laura's Larder

In the ever-evolving landscape of food and drink, independent retailers are at the forefront of discovering and sharing new, exciting products with their communities. By exploring how these businesses source, select, and introduce new items, we gain valuable insights into current trends and consumer preferences.  

Speciality & Fine Food Fair asks Laura Roberts, Owner of Laura’s Larder in Orpington, Margret Davidsdottir, Sales & Purchasing Assistant at Rhug Farm Estate in North Wales, and Simon Warren, Owner of East Street Deli in Wimbourne, to reveal their unique approaches to curating distinctive product offerings and finding the perfect food & drink brands for their audience.  

We kick off the discussion by asking which specific products have recently been a hit with customers.  

Margaret comments: “Recently we started working with Niche Patisserie in Oswestry, getting in freshly baked produce twice a week. Their house sourdough loaf and filled croissants have been particular crowd pleasers. This has been a wonderful high-quality addition to our range of baked goods.  

“This spring we have had local wine experts at Blas ar Fwyd to assist us in overhauling our wine selection, placing emphasis on organic and sustainably produced wines as well as increasing our selection of Welsh and English wine. The latter two have been particularly popular, showing that there is a strong interest in UK produced wines. 

“We have also noticed an increase in interest in our range of frozen produce. We recently broadened our range of frozen food from Fieldfare that allows our customers to decide the exact quantity of produce they buy.” 

Simon adds: “We have recently introduced the brilliantly branded Truffle Guys products which have been a real hit with our customers. In our cheese counter we’ve been really pleased with the introduction of the Golden Hooves range which we recently featured as our ‘cheese of the month’.   

“Since December we have stocked the highly publicised Hawkstone beer which has been very popular, certainly with the recent Clarkson's Farm series. We have also had success with seasonal confectionary sales with the beautifully packaged and designed Chocolate Gift Company, which gave us a real point of difference for seasonal events such as Valentines, Mother’s Day, Easter and Father’s Day.” 

Independent retailers, farm shops, delis and more are trusted by their audience to curate a delicious selection of quality food & drink products.  

“At Laura's Larder, we love sharing laughs with our customers about how we taste everything, so they don't have to—though it's hardly a chore!” Says Laura. “The joy of running an indie lies in discovering new, delicious products and showing our community how to incorporate them into their everyday meals. I often get asked, "How would I use this?" and I enjoy sharing my experiences and encouraging customers to experiment and create their own versions. 

Laura's Larder

“When it comes to sourcing, I attend events, scroll through social media, read trend reports, and most importantly, explore markets, pop-ups, and more. I have hundreds of products flagged at any one time and try to introduce a new one each week that fits the season and complements our existing selection, as well as being something I think our customers will enjoy.” 

Simon adds: “We are getting more and more new suppliers contacting us about their fresh new products. However, we are very careful about what products make it onto our shelves. We are so tight on space that we have to make sure that every line we stock adds value to our range. It is so easy to let it get out of control and before you know it you have eight types of mayo and 34 chutneys!  

“We research each line and want to make sure that it tastes great, looks great and is made with values similar to ours. We want our shop to be bursting full of variety, and full of interesting, great tasting and different products. We also look for Great Taste Award stars.  Having recently worked with the Guild of Fine Food on the judging for the awards we now understand the attention to detail that goes into grading the products and recognise the value that it offers.” 

Rhug Estate is owned by Lord Newborough, someone who is passionate about showcasing organic, high-quality products and championing Welsh food and drink.  


“Our hope is that we play a small part in introducing local produce to a wider audience,” adds Margeret. “We like unique products with a story behind them, a story we try our best to convey to our customers.   

“To discover new products and suppliers we have a dedicated team member whose focus is to find new and exciting suppliers to work with. We also attend several trade shows and fine food fairs for inspiration, to discover new and exciting products, and to keep track of current trends in food and drink. We take part in meetings with Cywain, a Welsh Government Food and Drink project that links Welsh businesses together and we visit other farm shops around Wales and England to see which produce they are stocking. 

“We also get a lot of interest from new suppliers through social media and email. We welcome the opportunity to open discussions with new suppliers that meet our criteria of providing organic produce.” 

When it comes to introducing new products to Laura’s Larder, it all comes down to the personal touch. 

“We always have something new on the shelf because people love to see what's fresh, and that's what brings people back time and again,” says Laura. “But we also keep the staples everyone relies on. I don't always get it right—I've been left with plenty of sauces, pickles, and more that didn't quite hit the mark. Sometimes my taste isn't everyone's taste, but I stick to my guns with products I believe in, and it usually pays off.” 

In addition to stocking a wide range of innovative products, East Street Deli enjoys engaging with the latest trends and making use of social media to drive sales and upsells.   

East Street Deli

“Our deli is predominantly known for stocking a good range of cheese and we have seen a definite trend towards pairings that go well with it," explains Simon. “We’ve recently started a series on social media called ‘The Cheese Chronicles’ where we take a cheese and pair it with some of our favourite deli products.  It’s been a real hit and we’re looking forward to working with many of our suppliers in featuring as many combinations as possible.   

“This is a trend we’re seeing all over the store, food and drink pairings, cheese and wine/beer/cider pairings, cheese and charcuterie combinations, sweet and savoury pairings etc.  It’s interesting for the customer, they can try it out with friends and family at home and can lead to an increased basket spend due to an additional item being purchased to go alongside the weekly cheddar or stilton!” 

Speciality & Fine Food Fair celebrates its 25th anniversary on 10-11 September at Olympia London. To stay up to date with all the latest news, interviews and industry trends, subscribe to our newsletter.  



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