Eastenders Cash & Carry was founded in 1989 by east-end boy, Dave West. He set up a huge warehouse near the Calais ferry port to cater to “booze cruisers” after a bargain on alcohol and tobacco. It’s now the largest British-owned cash and carry in Europe. West runs the business with his son, also called Dave, and has grown the business organically to a turnover of £101.5m last year. But it hasn’t been easy for the pair: “When we lost 40 per cent of the value of the pound to the euro, it hit the business,” says Dave West Junior. “And it’s not as cheap to come over on the ferries any more. You used to be able to come over for a couple of quid.“ But the father and son team have been quick to adapt to the tougher trading conditions: “People aren’t after the cheapest plonk any more,” says West. “And they’re moving away from beer to wine. If they want it, we’ll stock it: we have increased our range of wines from 100 to 1,000.” The firm also avoids distributors, preferring to buy its products direct from the source to bring prices down for its customers. “This might be a bad year, but we’re not giving up,” says West. “We’ll start coming out of the downturn within 18 months.” www.eastenders-calais.com
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