WE all know fruit is good for us. But it is turning out to be lucrative, too, for Steven McGuire. 

The 38-year-old joined the family greengrocers’ 18 months ago after being made redundant from the financial services industry. Since then he has used his skills to grow, diversify and modernise The Fresh Fruit Shop, the business his father Kevin and uncle Michael – also McGuire – have run in Uddingston, Lanarkshire, since 1976. 

The most significant change made by the younger Mr McGuire so far has been the addition of office delivery to augment the core shop and home delivery service. Since the launch more than 70 corporate customers across the central belt have signed up for fruit deliveries in what is proving to be a successful and fast-growing strand of the business.

“We realised quite quickly this was a good way forward for the company,” says Mr McGuire, who lives in Bellshill. “Many of our customers, especially those in the tech industry, are looking to attract the best talent and providing company perks, such as a free breakfast or lunch for staff, is part of that. People are much more health-conscious these days, they want to eat fruit at work.

“My dad and I do the deliveries and we’re looking to bring on another staff member. We are growing fast and my five-year goal is to be the biggest fruit for the office supplier in Scotland.”

Mr McGuire smiles as he remembers weekends and summer holidays spent working in the family fruit shops. But after a career spent in the corporate world, how easy was it to make the transition to the family business?

“Initially the most important thing was making sure that I brought something different,” he explains. “I came from a business development background and thought long and hard before coming up with the office delivery idea. The business didn’t have the money to pay me a salary – I had to come up with something new and profitable. 

“It was also important to find the right balance and pace of change. You can’t just march in and tell your dad ‘you’re doing that wrong’. But I wanted to make improvements. I’ve initiated things like a social media presence, online banking, account tracking, that have already made us more successful and profitable.”

At the same time, his father’s lifetime of business experience has been invaluable. “We learn from each other,” he says. “I’m bringing an old-fashioned greengrocers’ into the modern world, but my dad is still the expert in what to buy, and when. And he has drummed into me the importance of profit. Sometimes I’ve been too quick to say ‘yes’ to everything. But the logistics have to be right, too, with fuel costs so high. There’s always a balance.”

Joining the family business has also led to a change in lifestyle for Mr McGuire. 

“We’re at the Glasgow fruitmarket in Blochairn by 3am every morning,” he says. “We’re picking and packing, then heading off to do deliveries. But I absolutely love what I do. I love the freedom this job brings me. And I love working with my dad and uncle. I want the business they started to continue for another 40 years.”

As part of this long-term plan for The Fresh Fruit Shop, Mr McGuire joined the RBS Accelerator scheme, in what has become a key partnership. 

“Being part of the scheme helped me perfect my 60-second pitch, which I then delivered at events and to other businesses in the RBS hub,” he says.

“This has won me five contracts and our turnover has increased by £1000 a week.”