A growing venture

WHEN it comes to starting a business venture, modern media would have it that you have to be smart, well educated and perhaps most importantly young.

WHEN it comes to starting a business venture, modern media would have it that you have to be smart, well educated and perhaps most importantly young.

However, an East Brent couple have proved it can be experience rather than youthfulness age that is the key to be a profitable success.

Liz and Gilbert McPherson, both aged 59, launched a franchise of Riverford Organic Vegetables in 2001, delivering fresh produce to 29 people's doors in Weston in their first month.

Today, following eight steadily-improving years, the pair employ drivers to deliver vegetables to more than 2000 homes in the North Somerset area.


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Liz, a former nurse at Musgrove Hospital in Taunton, told the Mercury the idea started with a leaflet through their door.

She said: "We used to get fruit and veg delivered to us and one day we got a note asking for someone to take over the local franchise.

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"Gilbert showed an interest and I agreed to help out with the paperwork while things started off, but soon I was solely working with my husband.

"And when the organic food surge kicked off in 2002 we found our sales surge, and there was no longing back.

"It's been an exciting, sometimes frantic and tiring project, but we have not a single regret."

The couple's franchise takes produce picked at Riverford Organic Vegetables farms in South Devon to customers' homes the next day.

Liz said: "People like to have a friendly face at their door delivering food and a guarantee of where it is coming from.

"Our business took off with the organic food boom but has also been helped by good leafleting and word of mouth.

"And while recent times have brought fresh challenges, we have continued to steady our sales thanks to our loyal customer support.

"When will we stop? When we both get bored."

Liz and Gilbert, a former agricultural lecturer at Bridgwater College, hold one of 30 franchises of Riverford Organic Vegetables.

The company was set up by Guy Watson in 1997, who later won Soil Association's Organic Business Person of the Year in 2003.

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