SUPPORT for independent retailers in the Portsmouth area grew when the government’s economic secretary to the Treasury popped in to meet tea factory owner, Andrew Gasden.
Andrew, who started up All About Tea seven years ago, spoke to minister Nicky Morgan on Friday about what the government can do to support small businesses.
All About Tea is a manufacturing wholesaler and distributor working in the city centre and won the Retailer of the Year Award at The News’ Business Excellence Awards last year.
At the Southsea factory, Nicky said: ‘Businesses like Andrew’s make a huge contribution to our economy and people should support them.
‘People should realise what is out there in their community.
‘There are so many different choices in retailers and people should want to support local businesses. They are a critical part of growing our economy.
‘The government has been supporting local retailers with things like the Mary Portas review. Going to local retailers, people can see who is making the products and where they are coming from.
‘Financial services will continue to be important to our economy but we want more people in construction and production jobs.
‘Businesses like Andrew’s are so important to make sure that we have a strong, stable economy.’
As well as blending, flavouring and packaging tea for distribution, Andrew’s factory has a front-of-house shop and cafe area.
‘We are doing something very like what every city grocer would have done 100 years ago,’ Andrew said.
‘We have 76 varieties of tea and 156 different loose leaf teas. The blend I am proudest of is Portsmouth Tea, which is very popular locally because it is blended for Portsmouth water. It is very chalky water and anyone who has had to descale their kettle will know that.’
All About Tea started life in a flat in Fratton seven years ago.
After Andrew left the Royal Navy in 2005, he stayed in the city.
The firm grew from being in a small flat, and after three and a half years, it moved into its premises in Middle Street.
‘It quickly became obvious that we needed to open a shop to go along with the factory,’ he explained.
‘Little by little, we did it. It started out with a display for people to buy from and became what was a little shop.
‘We have recently expanded our range, so people can buy a pot of tea and a slice of cake, but we are also selling fresh orange juice and smoothies.
‘We are going to start selling coffee soon.’
The News’ Shop Local campaign is calling on all readers to reconsider their shopping habits and think about how all of our actions can help bolster the community.
Independent retailers bring millions to the local economy every year.
And apart from helping retain money in the area, local businesses create jobs for people living near them.
There are hundreds of shops that are run by local people who depend on us to help keep them in business.
Without them, there would be fewer jobs and less money.
And without the diversity these sorts of shops and restaurants have to offer, we will lose the choice that we currently enjoy.