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Valvona & Crolla wins new hamper business

DELICATESSEN and restaurant chain Valvona & Crolla is taking over the Christmas hamper business of department store House of Fraser.

ALL SMILES: Chief executive Philip Contini with one of this year's Christmas hampers. Picture: Steve Cox
ALL SMILES: Chief executive Philip Contini with one of this year's Christmas hampers. Picture: Steve Cox

The Edinburgh company has created a range of hampers, ranging from £30 to £100, including a Taste of Scotland set featuring its own coffee and wine alongside other local products.

Other products from Scotland include Cairn O Mohr elderflower wine, Brodies Scottish berries handmade chocolates, Stahly Quality Foods' royal haggis with venison, Dalgetty's clootie-style dumpling and baking from Shortbread House of Edinburgh.

Valvona & Crolla said hamper orders were about 25% ahead of where they would normally be at this time of year because of the deal. As a result it is taking on the equivalent of two full-time staff over the festive period to help it fulfil demand.

Philip Contini, chief executive of Valvona & Crolla, said: "This is a very exciting time for us. We are using our experience in preparing hampers to become sole suppliers to House of Fraser, one of the most respected retailers in the UK.

"Hampers have long been a traditional gift to give at Christmas but too often they contain dull, uninspiring products that languish at the back of the cupboard and are never used.

"After decades of creating hampers we are offering quality products that people will use and enjoy."

The family-run Edinburgh firm, founded in 1934, already has concessions within House of Fraser shops.

It recently expanded that with a Scottish craft and gift shop in the department store's flagship branch of Jenners in Edinburgh plus the west-end Frasers branch in the city and the Jenners store at Lomond Shores in Balloch.

Mr Contini is also looking at the possibility of adding a craft and gift online section to the Valvona & Crolla website.

He said: "You could say we are applying the model we have developed for artisan Scottish food to the gift sector by sourcing Scottish craftsmanship.

"Everything we sell in our arts, crafts and gift shop is made in Scotland, from our high-quality ceramics to our Harris Tweed range of handbags, purses and wallets.

"Many of the products available in the gift stores that have sprung up around Scotland's main tourist sites are made elsewhere, depriving our talented arts and crafts producers of showing what they can do."

To support that expansion and the additional stock that needs to be bought to service the hamper deal Valvona and Crolla secured a five-figure funding package with long standing lender Clydesdale Bank.

John Brebner, head of Clydesdale Bank's east of Scotland regional business and private banking centre in Edinburgh, said: "We are proud to have supported Valvona & Crolla from its early days as a small family business serving Edinburgh's Italian community through to becoming a respected restaurant and food retail chain that is synonymous throughout the UK with high-quality food.

"The company's Scottish craft and gift concessions are already popular with House of Fraser shoppers.

"With their expertise in preparing hampers, they are well placed to increase the department store's market share in this area too, and in turn growing their own orders."

Mr Contini is the grandson of Valvona & Crolla founder Alfonso Crolla.

The company now employs more than 90 people across seven locations, including at the original shop on Elm Row in Edinburgh.

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Food and drink

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