Stuart Turner with a SushiSushi sushi machine
Barnsley entrepreneur Stuart Turner is proving he could literally ‘sell ice to an eskimo’ with his business SushiSushi, which exports sushi machines to Japan...
Whilst traveling around Asia and Australasia in his twenties, salesman turned entrepreneur Stuart Turner developed a real appetite for sushi and fell in love with Japanese culture.
However, when he returned home to Barnsley, he missed being able to get hold of fresh sushi. There were plenty of places in London to get it, but outside the M25 it was a different story.
This inspired him to launch SushiSushi, a company educating people on how to best source and cook sushi no matter where in the world they were located.
“Whenever I talked about how much I loved sushi, people would always say ‘Urgh, I don't like raw fish!’” he said.
“First of all sushi isn't raw fish, that's sashimi. Secondly, sushi can be made from many things. The main part of sushi is the seasoned rice.
“So with this common mistake in mind, I set up a small information-based website with the goal to help educate people on what sushi actually was.”
Starting from his home basement SushiSushi began life as an online portal providing information on how to best cook and eat Japanese food.
But as the community began to grow, Stuart began to receive enquiries from around the world on not only best practice but also for the best equipment and ingredients.
This led to him launching the e-commerce side of the business and he could never have foreseen just how much of an impact it would have on the marketplace.
Today, the company sells its own range of sushi machines to restaurants, chefs, retailers and cooking enthusiasts across Europe and the rest of the world, with clients including Great British Menu judge Michael O’Hare and MasterChef runner up Andrew Kojima.
“My first warehouse was my basement,” he said. “I built a simple sushi information page for £20 and added some products which started to sell.
“My background is in web design and management and I’ve also held numerous sales positions. This experience helped me build the e-commerce side of the business.
“SushiSushi now supplies quality sushi and catering equipment to restaurants, chefs, retailers and cooking enthusiasts across the globe. Slowly over the past 10 years we've grown that range to over 3,000 products.”
One of SushiSushi’s bestselling products is its manual sushi rolling machines which are now shipped across the globe from their base in Mapplewell.
In fact, just last week the company sold its 500th sushi machine to a restaurant 8,000 miles away in South America.
The order saw SushiSushi ship one of its manualRoller-35 Sushi Machine’s to U Sushi in Tierra del Fuego Province, Argentina.
Stuart said: “Our sushi machines have gained interest in many countries, with 100% of our customers finding us online.
“It’s amazing to think that customers as far as Tierra del Fuego Province and Reunion Island near Madagascar are choosing a piece of catering equipment made in Barnsley for their hotel restaurants.
“The build quality and simplicity of the machine, plus the fact we offer free delivery anywhere in the world, makes it stand out – there’s really nothing else like it on the market.
“Our sales of other Japanese products are also increasing due to the popularity and interest in fusion foods.”
In February, SushiSushi also received orders of the machine from Italy, Chile, France and the USA and has even sold products to Japan!
But as with any business which actively exports all over the globe, breaking into new markets hasn’t come without its challenges.
Luckily for Stuart and his team, they have had the right support to guide them through the process.
“Shipping can be challenging but we have certain agreements in place to help overcome any issues”, he added.
“For example, a current deal with DHL means we can ship our Roller-35 sushi machine anywhere in the world for no more than £50.
“We include that cost in the product meaning customers can buy the machine no matter where they live, with free delivery.
“This has allowed us to achieve sales on all continents, and even remote islands like Reunion and French Polynesia.”
As well as their popular sushi roller machines, SushiSushi supplies everything for cooking Japanese cuisine from rice to refrigerators, and Japanese knives to street food packaging.
And Stuart is confident that as global demand for authentic Japanese and fusion foods continues to grow, SushiSushi will grow with it.
He concluded: “We've grown in turnover, product range, warehouse size and staffing levels every year so far and are set to keep that trend up for some years to come. We now turnover over £1m and are looking to double that this year.
“Our goal is to be the main supplier of Japanese food in the UK. We've got a lot of work still to do but I’m confident we can get there.”