YOU’VE heard of salesman so skilled it’s reckoned they could sell sand to the Arabs.
Well meet John Worrall, a Sheffield businessmen who does something perhaps just as impressive – he sells Cornish pasties to the Cornish.
When the founder of the Proper Pasty Company set up his snack shop in Pinstone Street 12 years ago he was told he’d never make the traditional southern food popular in a traditional northern city.
Now, not only is he selling 10,000 of them a week from 10 different outlets across the North and Midlands, he is about to open a new shop – in Cornwall itself.
“I just thought why not?” says the 50-year-old, who now lives in Dronfield.
“I’m confident our Cornish pasties are the best around and I’m certain they’ll go down a storm in their home county too.
“We’re taking on a place in St Austell where we know there will be some tough competition but we’re sure we can make it work.”
Oh, and don’t worry about new EU legislation – John’s are real ‘Cornish pasties’.
New Eurocrat guidelines last week gave the snack protected geographical status – meaning, to be given the prefix ‘Cornish’, the pasties had to meet a strict criteria.
John’s do, and he has the certificate to prove it. Unlike, he is quick to point out, fast food giants like Greggs.
John’s belters are made fresh in Cornwall (“then blast frozen and baked on site” explains John), have a distinctive D-shape and come crimpled on one side.
“The change in law means a lot of places will have to drop the name Cornish - but not us,” he says as we sit in the Proper Deli Company, also in Pinstone Street, and also owned by John. “I actually started the business while I was seeing a Cornish girl.
“I loved the pasties you get down there but noticed you couldn’t get them in Sheffield and I just thought they would be so popular so I went for it.”
Now, as well as those ten shops - including outlets in Leeds, Newcastle and Belfast, John supplies a variety of other businesses and organisations around the north including South Yorkshire Police and the Chatsworth Estate. They’ve even appeared on BBC1’s flagship show The One Show - “they seemed to like them,” notes John, a married father-of-two.
The company employs 65 staff, has recently opened a new £1million pound headquarters in Parkway Rise, and, despite the recession, has seen business boom over the last three years.
Five new shops will open this year including outlets in Manchester, the Isle of Wight and, of course, the one in Cornwall.
“I could talk for hours about Cornish pasties,” he says. “But let’s just say I’m proud we’re a Sheffield business that people have taken to their hearts.”