Bill Collison is arguably the most successful retail greengrocer in the UK, winning accolades from everyone who shops and eats at Bill's Produce Stores (currently in Lewes and Brighton). From humble beginnings over 20 years ago, selling fruit and vegetables from what amounted to a shed, he has slowly grown his business.
His is the story of the humble greengrocer who fought - the onslaught of supermarkets, the financial and seasonal fluctuations of supplies, the rising costs of everything - and won. Now, with new business partners, Caprice Holdings, on board, Bill's Produce Stores will be rolling out across the UK, into major cities, bringing Bill's and the food to a broader audience.
Bill's success is about clever growth - observing trends and challenges and adapting to them quickly. It's also about sheer hard work, getting into the store at 4am to dress it for the day and make it the visual treat that people come from miles away to experience. But it's mostly about the food - it's delicious, it's different, it's packed with flavours and colours and textures and for all that, it isn't expensive. From the simplest scrambled eggs on toast to the award winning vegetarian breakfast, the mezze plates and cakes that customers gawp at as they're set down before them, it's all presented with a flourish and a keen eye for detail - a unique celebration of eating.
Bill's background is in growing and greengrocery. His passion for food comes from a different source to his peers, literally from the roots up. He knows about produce, how it's grown and supplied, the peculiarities of sustainably growing different fruits and vegetables, the effects of the weather and the shifting requirements of customers.