Since this article was first written, Spainsbury’s has been taken over by Polish entrepreneur Maggie, although the article remains true and the product line similar.
“Open a British supermarket in Lliria? You must be mad!”
I was one of many who pronounced these prophetic words, and like all the others, I got it completely wrong.
I should have known; my wife tells me so every day.
The British people who come to live in Spain have a reputation for being elderly and set in their ways. They like their own cuisine (tea and a kilo of biscuits per day) and they like to keep their own hobbies; such as Protestantism. They don’t learn the language, the only local custom they adopt is cheap alcohol and cigarettes, and they complain that they left Britain because it’s full of people who don’t learn the language or adapt to British customs. But not everyone is like that.
When I first met Kirsten and Paul they had just opened their shop in La Eliana, near Valencia. Spainsbury’s was a small British supermarket stocking the main British food brands; the first of its kind in the area. Within a few years, helped by the arrival of the America’s Cup, hundreds of newcomers to the area, a website, a core trade of Spanish customers and a steady stream of regulars, Spainsburys moved to Lliria and doubled its size, turning out to be a success story for the area and a great personal achievement for its owners.
But after many years of hard work and much soulsearching, the couple decided to go back to the UK, and passed the reins to Neil & Dina Cassidy, originally from Navan, County Meath, Ireland.
Says Kirsten, “I loved having our business. We met hundreds of new people over the years and every day was different”. Paul adds, “We had seven incredible years doing this, but running a business in Spain is never straightforward. If anything, we’re going back to the UK for a rest! We wish Neil and Dina every success with the shop and hope the next seven years are just as rewarding for them”.
“We intend to follow the course set by Kirsten and Paul by providing our customers with excellence in service, quality and price, ” said Neil, and Dina added “We are delighted to be able to keep Spainsburys alive thanks to the marvellous way in which Kirsten and Paul have set it up and passed the baton to us.”
Neil had previously dedicated his time to the music business and Dina to catering, but like so many families from the cold north, they had dreamt of a place in the sun, and found it in Lliria, where they have lived with their two sons since 2006.
Spainsburys will continue to keep Valencia’s residents supplied with all of their favourite British food and drink brands, through the well stocked shop in Lliria or via their online supermarket (www.spainsburys.com). They still offer home delivery throughout the city and surrounding areas. Spainsburys don’t just offer food and drink though; they also stock a wide range of greetings cards and they buy and sell second hand books.
So, what can you buy in this typically untypical ‘British’ supermarket? Well, for one thing vegetarians are catered for with a range of frozen foods by the Quorn vegetarian specialists, as well as products sold under the Linda McCartney name.
Should you be having trouble with vampires you can buy odourless garlic capsules, and should you be a nature lover, you could try Bird’s Dream Topping, although I’m assured that it’s a dessert accessory and has nothing to do with pigeons.
Nobody produces stuff to add a bit of flavour to bland food like the British, and so among the sauces you can find Devilish Relish, Ploughman’s Pickle and even Crinkle Cut beetroot, for those who care about the shape of what they eat rather than the flavour.
There are soups such as Spicy Parsnip and Highlander’s Broth, with or without a beheading sword and a crackle of electricity, genuine sliced bread, malt vinegar, Lemon Curd and every British schoolboy’s dream breakfast; Porridge Oats.
Porridge is of course a very Scottish form of masochism, what normal people call a cereal killer; I’ve even heard that they eat it with salt. And another typically Scottish breakfast is the smoked fish known as kippers, which come frozen with their own slab of frozen butter, in case adding a slab of butter is too complicated for you.
There is also a free noticeboard, where British residents can offer and seek services or find like-minded people for all kinds of cultural activities; or just drinking.
Sweet Home is based at Plaza Jaime Roig, Calle Marc Corneli.