Many people choose this business more as a lifestyle choice than as a route to riches. Nonetheless, if you are in the right location and run the business well, good returns are possible.
The important thing to remember is that you will need a high sales volume to make a decent profit, since the margins are not as high as with many retail businesses. Nevertheless, delicatessens compare favourably to other food retail.
"The margins are anything between 25% and 60% gross profit depending on the make-up of the business. Cooked meats and cheeses tend to be higher margins, but even the retail goods tend to be the top end of the scale since delis sell their products on quality rather than price," explains Sheehan. One delicatessen owner quoted a gross profit margin of 40% across the board.
You can increase turnover through selling hampers, take-away snacks or outside catering. These have higher margins than grocery goods and are also an excellent way of promoting your food to the public.
Leeper explains, "We do lots of outside catering which is something the previous owners didn't do. It's a good way of keeping our hand in as chefs. We do business lunches and wedding parties and we hope to expand this side of the business further. It's quite profitable and it's fun as well."
Websites can be excellent marketing tools, advertising your produce and giving essential details such as opening times. Moreover, fine foods are a niche market with a dedicated customer base and therefore perfect for selling over the internet.
If you get all the sides of your business working well, however, the income can be good - several delis on the market quote annual net profits of some £50,000. All of which suggests that, for those owning a successful delicatessen at least, it is possible to have your cake and eat it as well.