One year on, Helen’s living on Mallorca and running Delicioso – her blossoming six-month-old catering and deli provisioning company. And the future looks as promising as the chocolate brownie in front of me. One bite brings a whole new meaning to ‘gaining brownie points’, and I realise why Delicioso’s finding favour with Mallorca’s serious food lovers.
It’s quite a change for someone who’d reached board level at London agency Craik Jones, with Land Rover as her main client. “I’d lived in London for 15 years and it was enough,” Helen explains. “I wanted a new challenge and a change, so it was a career and lifestyle decision.”
A past career break for travelling had brought Helen to Mallorca, where she learnt to sail, made friends, and stewardessed on a boat in Puerto Portals. Having known the island for over 25 years, Mallorca was an easy choice of new home, but considerable effort went into researching business opportunities.
Trim, bright-eyed and with the clear glowing skin and glossy hair of someone who knows and enjoys good quality food, Helen had always been a fan of London’s delicatessens. She also recalled how hard it had been as a stewardess to find fresh, tasty deli items here. Her passion for delicious food led to her business idea.
Finding the right premises was her biggest challenge: somewhere to accommodate future growth and project the fresh, contemporary image she wanted. Last December, Helen secured the only vacant premises (150 sq m) on Polígono Son Bugadelles. A prime location for her business, it’s also close to her Santa Ponsa home.
Allow plenty of time, is her advice to other business starters. “In fact, double the amount of time you think you need!” Waiting ages for her company’s CIF number proved particularly frustrating.
Helen has a business partner she’s known for a long time. Violetta’s experience as a chef and stewardess, and yachting industry knowledge and connections, make her “a great and involved partner.”
Another key role is held by Avena, a former restaurant owner who trained as a pastry chef in Austria. Her brigade management experience is invaluable when extra kitchen staff are brought in.
The number of good yacht chefs and stewardesses available for part-time work helps when staffing up for big events.
“They must have the right attitude, be flexible and share my vision for the business,” says Helen.
Yacht and second-home owners have easy access to quality foods through Delicioso’s deli provisioning service. Orders can be placed through their user-friendly website (www.deli-delicioso.com) or by phone; goods collected, or delivered by refrigerated van.
Shelves on the premises display branded premium deli products of both Mallorcan and international origin, including Ella’s Kitchen organic baby foods, Belvoir Fruit Farms juices and cordials, Stokes traditional condiments, Pukka herbal teas, and The Grove Avocado Oil, from New Zealand – all introduced to Mallorca by Delicioso.
Although not a retail outlet, personal shopping visits can be made by prior arrangement; increasingly, residents are discovering the branded and Delicioso’s own fresh deli items – such as marinated olives, humus, tapenades, salads, smoked salmon pâté and home-made cakes and desserts.
Two prestigious regattas provided a great opportunity for the young company: they were chosen to cater and provision for June’s Superyacht Cup, and provide lunches for the Copa del Rey competitors. “The first was our largest function and almost like a launch event for us, serving top VIPs.” says Helen.
On land, they’ve catered for different types of event, including BBQs, but still look forward to their first wedding. I’m told Avena makes amazing wedding cakes.
This month, many yachts leave for the Caribbean but, as a marketeer, Helen’s already addressed the seasonal challenges and opportunities here. They’ve recently launched a lunch delivery service (freshly-prepared salad boxes, sandwiches and desserts), and new autumn catering and children’s birthday party menus.
For Christmas – which Helen loves – there’ll be home-made Christmas cakes, puddings, mince pies, and a menu of festive canapés. And Christmas hampers – with a contemporary twist – will replace Delicioso’s summer picnic hampers.
They’ve also launched a range of home-cooked ready-meals (fresh or frozen as required) including favourite dishes such as Creamy Fish Pie, Thai Green Chicken Curry, and Sticky Toffee Pudding.
“We have zillions of ideas, but we’re being very sensible,” says Helen. “Steady growth is what I want to achieve.”
The core of the business is delivering fine and fresh food of a high standard, at competitive prices. “As a new company we’ll evolve – particularly on the catering side – and import more brands for deli provisioning.”
Delicioso’s imaging and logo (incorporating a visual play on the ‘deli’ part of the name and designed by a former London colleague) reflect the clean, fresh and contemporary feel of the company that Helen’s carefully building.
Networking and forging relationships with other businesses on the island, including some food and wine companies, have been key in her marketing strategy.
And the recession? “We have no previous year’s business with which to compare, so we don’t have that benchmark,” says Helen. “But so far the response has been fabulous and business keeps building. My head’s not in the clouds though, because food prices are increasing, so we need to keep on our game and stay competitive.”
Helen Richards has clearly risen to her own challenge: “I’m in a place I want to be and it feels more like home than London ever did,” she says. And professionally, it looks as though Helen and her team will enjoy delicious success.
Delicioso y Exclusivo SL
C/Islas Canarias, 31-a, Nave 3
Polígono Son Bugadelles
07180 Santa Ponsa
Mobile: +34 626 566 731
Tel: +34 971 699 221