His input is certainly one example of where good external support helps.
Bravery in business is one of the key attributes which determine ultimate achievement. A close second, perhaps even an integral part of the same attribute, is having passion and love for the cause you are fighting. Add to this a desire to work hard, a dash of Sicilian blood and four generations of quality Mediterranean food, and you have a recipe for success. Or at least you’d think so!
The right mindset at the wrong place and time…
When Carlo and Andrea Diforti arrived in this country in 2005 to take over the struggling UK branch of their father’s business, there was more against them than for them. The business was being run by Directors they didn’t know, it was losing money, customers were unhappy, and other problems were coming to light each day. Oh, and as two 18-year-old boys, straight out of school, with no management experience, and barely a smattering of English between them, they already felt a little out of their depth.
The positives, because that is the theme of this story, were that Italian food was in their blood. Continuing the legacy that started in a small olive producing region of Sicily over a hundred years ago, the boys were the fourth generation of the Diforti family working in the business. And there was no way it was going to fail on their watch!
Great products and true passion still need managing!
Reacting to a small, but growing demand for export into the UK, Carlo and Andrea’s father had set up an office in Hertfordshire in 1999, with the intention of building the business here. The product was good enough that it sold well, and attracted new customers organically. But circumstances drew him away, leaving the business in the hands of people who didn’t care: and his absence soon started to take its toll.
That is when bravery stepped up to the mark, and the boys arrived to make sweeping changes, take control and start to apply the principles that had been fundamental to the Diforti history.
Over the next five or six years, they set about steadying the ship, delivering great service worthy of the quality of the food, and attracting new customers. It was very much a case of learning as you go: the language, culture, business processes, suppliers, customers and management.
Brave decisions and bold steps forward.
One of the key lessons those first five years in business taught the young Diforti brothers was that you need good support around you. Having passion and work ethic in abundance was good, having a premium, authentic, much-loved product behind you was reassuring; but to take big, bold steps needed a little more. It is important to remember that the story so far takes place against a backdrop of financial doom and gloom across Europe. So there was little optimism in the markets and, as any small business owner will know, the banks were not offering much support. Customers were tightening purses, delivery was expensive, 3rd party suppliers kept pushing for margins and everything else was just as tight.
So they decided to sack their accountant… In stepped Paul Meades around 2011 and, while he couldn’t lay claim to turning the tide completely for the business, his input is certainly one example of where good external support helps. In business, you simply cannot go it alone and make the right decisions all of the time.
You too can enjoy the taste of success and Sicily!
The business has become an unequivocal success story, particularly in recent years, and the brothers put it down to three things: Passion, hard work, and great support. In 2015 they doubled their turnover against the previous year and in 2016 it looks like it will end up being another 50% higher again. Doing things the right way works! Until recently the business had just sold its authentic flavours and quality produce to wholesalers, retailers, restaurants, hotels and delicatessens. But the great news is that you can now buy from them direct. They have just launched a user-friendly website for consumers where you can bring the taste of Sicily into your own home.