‘I drive a lorry to keep my sweet shop going’

Home UK News ‘I drive a lorry to keep my sweet shop going’
‘I drive a lorry to keep my sweet shop going’

The owner of a small business in east Belfast says he has taken a second job driving lorries in order keep his sweet shop afloat.

Kris Fisher said rising costs led to him stepping back from full-time involvement in the business so he could earn more money elsewhere.

The latest inflation figures were released on Wednesday, showing prices rose by 2.3% in the year to April, the lowest rate since September 2021.

The rate of inflation has fallen significantly since it hit 11.1% in October 2022, which was the highest rate for 40 years.

But this does not mean the prices of goods and services overall are coming down, it is just that they are rising at a slower pace.

Mr Fisher said businesses like his were still finding times tough.

He said his partner Claire was now running Aunt Sandra’s Candy Factory, allowing him to drive a lorry two days a week.

“It’s not ideally what I want to be doing but I’m lucky that I have that…I can go away and bring money into our house and keep our staff in a job here,” he said.

Aunt Sandra’s Candy Factory is a family-run business that Mr Fisher took over from his uncles four years ago.

It manufactures and sells all kinds of sweets from fudge to macarons to chocolate.

Between March 2023 and March 2024 the price of sugar rose by 14.2% and chocolate by 9.2%, according to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.

Those are two key ingredients for the products Mr Fisher’s business makes and he said he had seen no evidence of inflation falling.

“If anything, I’m still getting rises through the likes of our chocolates,” he said.

“Just recently, it has gone up more than 50%. I don’t see it going down in my line of business.”

He said he tried to cut costs wherever possible to avoid passing price rises on to customers.

“We’re still struggling,” he said.

“We’ll just have to keep going as best we can and see if we can get through but I’m probably not too optimistic at the moment to be honest.”

Despite the fall in inflation, it remains above the Bank of England’s 2% target.

Other small businesses are optimistic that the rate of inflation falling will allow them to “ride out the storm”.

James Small, who co-owns Shimna Café in Newcastle, County Down, said the period following the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2021 had led to a “chaotic” period when people could not predict if their prices would rise.

Mr Small said his prices were holding steady at the moment but he was optimistic about the future.

“We’ve ridden the storm and so far, we’ve managed okay,” he said.

“I think everything will get better sooner rather than later.”

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