Sue Edwards talks to James Anderson, owner of Allsorts in Uckfield, about how he became the owner and how it has grown since!
What did you do for a living before you bought Allsorts?
Before Allsorts I worked for two big companies. Firstly in Matalan where I worked my way to management and by 18 I ran all departments. I then moved to Wyevale garden centres where I ran £4 million and £2 million garden centres.
When did you first hear about the sale of Allsorts?
Via the Internet and Oldfield and Smith website.
What made you want to buy the business?
I looked at the potential of Allsorts and saw lots! I did consider Blockbuster, but it wasn’t as appealing as Allsorts.
What made you change from being an employee to running your own business?
Wyevale was bought out by a private firm, so I decided it was time for me to go and start my own business, as I already had the passion to drive forward.
Did you seek help or advice before taking on Allsorts and if so where did you find it?
I sought advice from some accountants for the books and also did lots of research.
What made you want to change things ie: the interior of the shop and the sort of stuff you sell?
Having had years of experience with the garden centres I’ve learnt what sells and what doesn’t.
How do you decide what to sell next?
I go to the NEC twice a year to look at new ranges but also keep up with trends and look at new suppliers. I’m planning to go to the NEC again in September for ideas of what to stock next. I am already planning for Christmas.
I have just started a new range of local food and have other ideas in the pipeline.
What makes you different from places like ‘The Bargain Store’ or Poundland?
I think the biggest thing I have is my commitment and how I interact with the public. But also I’m willing to go out my way to help all of my customers.
What’s the best thing about being self-employed and the owner of Allsorts?
The fact I don’t have to answer to anyone and if it goes wrong it’s my fault – well all except my wife lol !
Do you have any plans to expand?
My plan is to expand into a bigger unit or another shop in another town.
How do you manage your personal/work life balance?
It’s very hard sometimes, but having allsorts I see more or my wife and kid now than when I was working for the garden centre. I do also have a very understanding wife who loves my passion to provide for my family.
What technology, websites, or apps do you rely on in business?
My business is all done via the Internet so ordering and my website is being built at the moment but I would like to start selling on the Internet.
Would you do anything differently if you had to start again?
There are always things you can do differently, but it’s like a book – if you change one thing it could change what direction you go in. I can truly say I’m really happy with what we have achieved so far and the future.
What advice would you give to anyone considering self-employment or buying a business?
Research, research, research! Ask questions, look at towns, take on board what other retailers and customers tell you, but use your own instincts too for what you need to do. I have stood outside Allsorts many times and just watched!
My thanks to James Anderson for taking the time to answer my questions – a very busy man!
I would also like to thank him for his generosity and very kind donations for our Uckfield Volunteer Centre stand on the Uckfield Festival Big Day.
If you are a business in Uckfield or the surrounding area I would love to hear your story. Call me: