Sasinthirathilipkumar Kalimuthu (Kamal to his many friends) has worked in various roles and for various companies at NCGM over the course of 20 years in the market. Having picked up so much valuable experience, he decided last year that the time was right to follow his dreams and set up his own business. AA Produce is now trading out of unit B53 and Kamal is a busy man, but he found the time to talk to us when we popped in to say hello.
“I had always had a desire to run a business from New Covent Garden Market, supplying fresh fruit and vegetables from around the globe to a wide range of customers,” he said. “Early in 2020, I began to give the option considerable thought and when the pandemic hit, several friends suggested that one of the best times to set up a new business venture is when times are challenging. So, in June 2020, I established AA Produce Ltd.”
Of course, “challenging times” hardly does justice to the trading conditions that the new business encountered in its first year.
“The entrepreneurial side of me said that the best way forward would be to establish a wide customer base,” said Kamal, explaining his approach to trading through the pandemic. “The rules and regulations around COVID-19 dictated which businesses would be open and which ones would have to shut. So, I focussed intently on businesses that were able to adjust to the restrictions, such as those with the capacity to serve food outside or those with either established or new take-away services, as well as supermarkets, village shops etc.
"What I’m finding with the re-opening up of the economy is that more and more businesses, such as those in the catering and hospitality sectors, are eager to purchase a comprehensive range of fresh fruit and vegetables from our market, so I’m very confident that my business will grow further.”
At the heart of Kamal's business plan is to provide high-quality fresh produce at competitive prices and to offer a flexible and effective service to meet customer requirements. AA Produce supplies customers in London and Hertfordshire and sources a good proportion of its product from other suppliers in the market. “I aim to call upon other firms in the market more as I grow the business further - particularly for customers who have not purchased via the market before,” explained Kamal.
He likes to support charities as much as he can, and in addition to raising funds through running marathons, has worked closely with Mapledown School in Barnet. “Mapledown is an incredible school for special needs students where I have helped to train students to run and also supported the school in running business enterprise programmes. I’ve introduced them to new fruit and vegetables and helped the children to learn where in the world the products come from and also donated fresh produce for their winter soup kitchen and for the smoothie kitchen during the summer. The profits the school earns from these ventures goes towards extra curricular activities.”