Fruit and Veg

Customer profile: Andreas Veg

Written by Tom Moggach
February 12, 2019

He's one of London's top greengrocers - with a revamped shop and roller coaster of a life story. Meet Andreas Georghiou.

It's Georghiou's 25th year in the business. Wind back the clock and he ran two shops - Turnham Green and Chelsea - but the stress took its toll. 

One shop closed. Georghiou had a breakdown. Now he's back on form and has overhauled his Chelsea store. 

New Covent Garden Market Customer Profile February 2018 Andreas Veg Exterior

This shop on Cale Street has been trading since 2012, catering to the Chelsea community. "We deal with a lot of high-pressure chefs in the private houses here," he explains. 

But the shop was cramped. "Our growth started to slow down as people couldn't get into the shop. We had to think on our feet and make it more fun for our customers," he recalls.  

New Covent Garden Market Customer Profile February 2018 Andreas Veg Amalfi Lemons

Georghiou relished the challenge, having spent decades trying to be efficient with his space. 

"Part of my alter ego, which stems from years trying to get as much produce as possible into transit vans, is space and design .... The brief I gave to the designer was 'More Harry Potter and less Londis'."

New Covent Garden Market Customer Profile February 2018 Andreas Veg Interior Wide

The result is stunning. Every inch of the shop is put to good use. Inside, to the left, a fridge blasts mists of spring water to help hydrate radicchio, sea kale, puntarelle, breakfast radishes and more...

New Covent Garden Market Customer Profile February 2018 Andreas Veg Mist Fridge
New Covent Garden Market Customer Profile February 2018 Andreas Veg Display

Smooth click drawers reveal heritage potatoes or vials of dehydrated fruits and vegetables, made by his daughter - such as wild mushroom flakes or these Muscat grapes. 

New Covent Garden Market Customer Profile February 2018 Andreas Veg Muscat Grapes

"She has made all these amazing concoctions – this is our potions drawer," he says. 

The dehydrated lemon verbena is from Nature’s Choice on the market; celeriac and celery from European Salad Company; dill from Greenhills

He buys from a wide range of wholesalers and describes the crucial role of the market in London's food system. "Listen - there is not a single restaurant in London of standing that does not get supplied via New Covent Garden Market ... nothing would happen without New Covent Garden Market." 

New Covent Garden Market Customer Profile February 2018 Andreas Veg Display Front
New Covent Garden Market Customer Profile February 2018 Andreas Veg Lychees Branch

The whole shop is designed to fire up the senses. "It’s all set out so you can look and touch and smell. Which is something people weren't used to when we first moved in. The had a Waitrose and Sainsbury's and M&S but it's all pre-packed junk."

New Covent Garden Market Customer Profile February 2018 Andreas Veg Berries
New Covent Garden Market Customer Profile February 2018 Andreas Veg Asparagus

For years, Andreas Veg only stocked fruit and veg but now also offers cheeses, charcuterie, artisanal oils, pastas and more - all of the very highest quality. 

"We have this best or nothing at all attitude," he says. "Our basket spend is outrageously high – it can approach up to £45 pounds on some days but never slips below £23 and if you think the average in greengrocers in West London is £5."

New Covent Garden Market Customer Profile February 2018 Andreas Veg Charcuterie
New Covent Garden Market Customer Profile February 2018 Andreas Veg Cheese
New Covent Garden Market Customer Profile February 2018 Andreas Veg Hummus

Georghiou is honest about his journey so far. "It is a classic up, down and up story."

His health collapsed a few years ago and he lost all confidence. "I had a little phase that with my illness I couldn't go in [to the market]. My confidence had got so low that there were people I didn’t want to talk to, I didn't want to see because my self esteem had suffered because of my breakdown."

New Covent Garden Market Customer Profile February 2018 Andreas Veg Portrait

But a wholesaler on the market, Simon Collier-Ward, asked if he could give him a ring and said he had nothing to fear. 

"It was amazing when I did first cross the line and the amount of support I got from the market was astonishing ... you consider everyone to be a bit burly and a bit robust when in fact everyone had a real sensitive side to them. They said 'Look you are one of us - let's do some business and get you back on your feet' - which was fantastic."

New Covent Garden Market Customer Profile February 2018 Andreas Veg Fridge

Georghiou has now adjusted the way he works. He no longer sells to restaurants. The shop closes at 5:30 with no answerphone, so customers must email or call in working hours. There are no debts to the bank and just one van to make deliveries. 

New Covent Garden Market Customer Profile February 2018 Andreas Veg Van
New Covent Garden Market Customer Profile February 2018 Andreas Veg Vehicle Reg

"I thought if you want to retain your health and your stress levels you've got to take this sort of gamble." 

Business is good right now but he does not take his current success for granted. "I’m a bloke who appreciates the luck he has had."

Andreas Veg

4 Cale Street, Chelsea, SW3 3QU

0207 589 5775

@andreasveg

www.andreasveg.co.uk


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