Monday, 08 August 2022
MICAH JUDAH is the owner and managing director of Pavilion Foods in Market Place, Henley. He lives in Peppard Common with his wife Emily and three young children. He was born in Yorkshire but had family ties in this area. He is an alumnus of Le Cordon Bleu and the University of Nottingham and had a 15-year career in food retail before setting up his own business last year. He loves sport, especially cricket and carp fishing.
Describe your business
Pavilion is an independent delicatessen and cookery school. With more than 1,000 curated products from some of the finest producers locally, nationally and internationally, the store also houses a large open kitchen from which our skilled chefs can be seen handcrafting products for the deli counter daily. Our kitchen doubles as the cookery school, where we run classes for people of all ages and abilities, from children and college students taking their first steps in cookery to experienced foodies looking to take their skills to the next level. We also offer catering, private bookings and corporate events.
How many people does it employ?
We are a team of 20, all living in and around the Henley area. I’m proud to be employing three wonderful Ukrainians who have recently settled in the area.
What did you do before you started this business?
I’ve spent my entire career in food retail and hospitality with Marks & Spencer, starting on the graduate scheme in Nottingham store. I’ve worked up and down the country with the majority of my time with the company being spent at the London head office.
When did you start your business?
Officially in March 2021 but I had planned to launch a couple of years earlier. We opened in December.
What was your objective?
Food is my passion. I’ve been involved in the opening of more than 250 food halls and have developed a good feel for what works. Creating my own food retail business has always been a goal. I wanted to create a destination store with food theatre front and centre and hope to help inspire the foodies of tomorrow. With customers trading bricks for clicks, you’ve got to give a reason to visit the high street and we hope to do that.
Who or what influenced you?
My parents always encouraged me to do whatever made me happy. My wife and kids have been a huge support throughout this journey.
Do you have a mentor or role model?
I’m surrounded by them and am inspired by anyone who has been brave enough to forge their own path, take risks and make difficult decisions.
How do you market your business?
Having a physical footprint really helps but word of mouth and positive customer feedback is the most important marketing tool. Without a great product, the rest doesn’t work but we’re also growing our presence on social, online and through print media.
What’s the best thing about running your own business?
The role is hugely varied and no day is ever the same.
What’s the most challenging aspect?
Having to be involved in absolutely everything from layout and design to finance and legal, to marketing and buying, while still trying to find time for my young family. When starting a business from scratch, it’s relentless but also incredibly rewarding.
Where is your business headed?
First and foremost it’s about ensuring our store is everything that I want it to be. It feels like much longer, but we’re just six months old so it’s too early to tell what the long-term future holds but we have some exciting projects to come.
How important are online sales?
They certainly are important, and always will be, but I’m a firm believer in the importance of a thriving high street to a community and value bricks over clicks. Saying that, we’ve recently launched our e-commerce platform and have seen a positive uptake.
Do you have a five-year plan?
Yes, but ask me again in five years.
What three qualities are most important to success?
Trust your gut instincts, surround yourself with great people and listen to your customers.
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?
It’s easy to get distracted by things that don’t really matter so don’t lose focus on where you want to get to and how you’re going to get there.
What would you advise someone starting a business?
Just to go for it. It will be a huge amount of work and harder than you think. However, the satisfaction of creating a business of your own, building your own brand and identity, seeing your vision come to fruition and, ultimately, having a team and customers that buy into the vision is hugely rewarding.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?
If you’re not making mistakes you’re not pushing hard enough.
How organised are you?
I’m writing this after midnight, so take from that what you will.
What can’t you be without every day?
Coffee and a tape measure
Lunch at your desk or going out?
Working in a deli, it’s a no brainer.
Do you continue to study?
Although we are all continuously learning, I’ve really enjoyed the teaching aspect of my role and the highlight of my week is running our after-school cookery club for children in years 3 and 4.
What do you read?
I own more cookbooks than I’ll ever be able to read, let alone cook my way through.
How are you planning for retirement?
I think I’ll always work, although I’m not yet 40 so that could change…
27 June 2022
ABOUT 85 people took part in a free event at ... [more]
POLL: Have your say