Early learner

Published: 03 Oct 2014

Businessman Des Cheyne got the entrepreneurial bug when he was 11, delivering pints of  milk in his home town of Banff and, later, helping out in his father’s convenience shop.

Three decades on, he is  now the owner and managing director of  the Spotty Bag Shop, one of the north-east's largest independent retail stores.

He said: “In the five years I was the local milk boy turnover on the round increased by 10%.

“I was the milk boy in the morning and worked in the shop at night with my dad.

“This gave me the drive and the buzz to succeed in business. My parents instilled a work ethic in me that to succeed you have to work hard."

Des Cheyne

His working life began when he bought a small ice-cream shop in Banff and then bought the family convenience store  from his father.

“I took over in July 2000 and after six months of wanting to drive the business forward I went back to the bank for more funding to allow me to extend the shop.

“This doubled it in size and my turnover grew by 59%. It generated more revenue per square foot than any shop of its kind.

“By this time I had got the buzz and the drive to continue to grow the business, but with only 500sq ft it was very difficult to grow.

“I thought about how to develop the business in different ways and was very lucky to tap into the now depleted fishing industry by supplying vessels with their food provisions.

“Within two years of starting this new service I was supplying 28 fishing vessels and the business grew exponentially."

After a range of other retail ventures Des, along with three  partners, purchased the Spotty Bag Shop in 2007.

“I had gone from running a little ice-cream shop to the biggest independent store in the north-east,” he said. “It felt like going from steering a small boat to a cruise liner, knowing that one wrong turn in the business could lead to its downfall.

“As time went on we went from four partners down to three, then only last year I bought out the remaining two partners.

“I will always be grateful to them for the support over the years and allowing me to achieve my dream, and helping the hard-working team here to turn it in to the famous destination store it is today."

Since 2007 the business has grown by 44% and Des plans to extend the store from 18,000sq  ft to 25,000sq ft, increasing its range from over 40,000 to 60,000 products.
 
He added: “We employ 52 people at the moment between full-time and part-time, with another 15 expected once the expansion takes place, taking us to approximately 70 employees and making us the biggest employer in Banff.

“We are also looking to expand the store's cafe, taking it from a 48 cover to a 100 cover to cater for the increase in coach parties in summer and  also an increase in our regular customers."

In 14 years in the retail business Des has picked up two Neighbourhood Shop of the Year awards, the Scottish Business Diversity Award and the Scottish Thistle Award.

He  has a range of other business interests and is joint owner of Banff nightclub, The Seafield.

 

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