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20. The Power of Retail Theatre – Bill Collison the founder of Bill’s

This week, Holly meets Bill Collison, the founder of Bill’s restaurants. In this episode, Bill shares his journey from the very early days as a barrow boy all the way to taking on investment to grow the business into what it is today.

As a Romany gypsy, Bill grew up planting and foraging, which helped fuel his love for fresh, seasonal produce. It was this love of fruit and vegetables which led Bill to work for a brief time as a chef, before going back to work for his dad. Together, they started selling local, seasonal produce in a small shop. With instinctive creativity, and an inherent eye for design, the shop become hugely successful. With a growing array of homemade pies and soups alongside his fruit and veg, Bill’s Saturday girl (and now wife!) convinced him to think bigger and open a cafe. The first Bills in Lewes went from strength to strength and five years later a second site opened in Brighton which found equal success. Bill’s is now a family of over 80 restaurants!

Crediting its success to the team (or as he describes them, family) who shared the same vision, Bill shares his advice for small businesses starting out in the food industry today. As well as his view on the future of the high street (and how to survive).