Finweek English Edition - - ON THE MONEY - Edi­to­rial@fin­

Call­ing the com­pany NOMU was his idea, says co-owner Paul Raphaely. “Tracy was a veg­e­tar­ian when she started the busi­ness. I rea­soned her dream del­i­catessen was never go­ing to have a mas­sive red meat sec­tion and in one of my ‘funny mo­ments’ sug­gested she called the com­pany NOMU. My rea­son­ing was that NOMU equalled ‘no moo’, which was equal to no cow or meat. “Tracy has since re­turned to eat­ing meat, though. She blames the lapse on veg­e­tar­ian sausages. The flavour was too close to the real thing and even­tu­ally she cracked. A bag of bil­tong might also have been in­volved.” which was rat­tling to pieces, and went out to trade, with prod­ucts in boxes and bas­kets, and sold them, plain and sim­ple. One store at a time.

South Africa it­self was our first big break – we ab­so­lutely prof­ited from a pe­riod in our re­cent his­tory when hun­dreds of thou­sands of for­eign­ers were flock­ing to SA to en­joy our new democ­racy, our new rain­bow na­tion, our Madiba Magic. It only took a hand­ful of these vis­i­tors to dis­cover NOMU in a few places, take them home and de­cide to aban­don their ca­reers to be­come food im­porters. Sud­denly we had an ex­port mar­ket. Since then, I think we have been very lucky in a num­ber of ways, but if it weren’t for that very par­tic­u­lar pe­riod in South Africa, I doubt NOMU would have found trac­tion quite so quickly.

What have been the big­gest chal­lenges and how has the com­pany over­come these?

Dis­tri­bu­tion, staffing, cash flow, sup­pli­ers… None of these are unique to NOMU and all ap­ply to ev­ery­one. They are all ma­jor chal­lenges and the only way to sur­vive any of them is to main­tain a steady sense of hu­mour and to try not to an­swer emails when you are an­gry.

What are your plans for the next three years?

That would be telling. You will have to just wait and see. It’s go­ing to be de­li­cious.

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