Spotlight: Turkish Delight

TFC Holdings
L-R: Deniz Suyur, TFC Holdings board member and director of wholesale, and Dr Eser Altinay assistant general manager

How do you not only survive but thrive in a global recession? The answer – be the only business that offers the range and level of service that you do.

When the 2008 crisis caused consumers to demand less for more and squeezed retailers to compete on mainstream products, Eda Quality Foods stood tall in the market by offering an exclusive range for Turkish restaurants and Mediterranean customers.

“We never observed any recession,” says Eser Altinay, assistant general manager. “The recession affected other wholesalers because they’re all doing the same thing. We keep growing and adding more products and branches.”
Pilsener wholesale“Efes Pilsener is like Cobra beer – when you go to an Indian restaurant, you have to have Cobra beer; when you go to a Turkish restaurant, you have to have Efes,” he explains.

Eda is able to do this because it has the exclusive rights to distribute 28 of the top 30 best-selling Turkish brands in the UK. These products might not be as well known to the average consumer as Kellogg’s or Cadbury but to the vibrant British-Turkish community, products such as Öncü hot pepper paste, Engizek premium cheese and Efes Pilsener beer are essential brands.

Eda Quality Food only moved into the catering sector two months ago but already completely supplies 100 restaurants, and has 1,000 restaurants and take­aways on its books.

But Eda’s directors have even bigger plans. In March last year, they opted to join Landmark to allow the company to supply mainstream products in addition to the current range.

The company now has accounts with multiples, including Tesco, Morrisons and Asda Convenience, as well as Booker, Musgrave and JD Wetherspoon, and can offer next day delivery across the country.

“Radio is our most successful form of advertising, mainly because we target ethnic minorities. Each community has several newspapers so if you want to target several groups, that can sometimes mean 50 newspapers, whereas there are only two or three radio stations,”

Eda’s owner, TFC Holdings, is based in London and owns several supermarkets across the capital. Combined with this, the company’s success can also be put down to knowing where best to target its customers. It designates a budget for radio, TV and print advertising, and backs charities, events and even a singer.

TFC Holdings now has all its subsidiaries under one roof, so Eda Quality Foods operates alongside Tees Ltd, which specialises in alcoholic drinks; Prime Quality Foods, which is the meat section; Esin Cash & Carry; as well as TFC’s travel and property businesses.

“Our business is now much more dynamic and our employees can move more easily between the different companies. Initially, we wanted to serve our own branches but then we decided to open up to everyone.”

Born on the island of Cyprus, Altinay received a scholarship to study at the University of Reading. He intended to go to Canada after his PhD, but his family introduced him to a woman from London, Ayla.

Looking to the future, Altinay and Eda have some ambitious plans for growth. “In the next 12 months, we will try to find out where we need to improve. Everybody makes mistakes so we’ll be rectifying those when we find them and pushing sales further,” he says.

TFC Holdings is aiming to double the number of its staff in the next five years, as well as opening two new TFC supermarket branches in Edgware and Blackhorse in London, it also plans to open another Esin Cash & Carry every two or three years. It is hoping to drive more into the world food market, not just Mediterranean, but offering a complete package for a wider range of customers.

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