Dr Andrea D'Ercole launched Italyabroad.com in Newcastle upon Tyne in early 2005 (www.italyabroad.com; 0191 226 8524).
Sunday 28 January 2007
Dr Andrea D'Ercole, 32, has an impressive career history in blue-chip companies that spans from finance to pharmaceuticals. But he decided to opt out of big business and take on a new challenge - as a "merchant". The traditional merchant model mixes know-how, travel and trade and D'Ercole's business, Italyabroad.com, offers the finest regional foods and wines from small producers in his native Italy. "We supply the real Italian products," he says, "not those simply labelled as Italian and, quite often, unrecognisable to Italians."
What started as a part-time idea in 2003 grew so quickly that D'Ercole took the plunge full-time in early 2005. "The amount of e-mails I got asking questions about Italy was amazing," he says. "I realised that there was a huge demand for what I could offer." And what he can offer stems from a lifetime's passion for food, cooking and wine. In fact, D'Ercole knows exactly when that passion started. "I was two-years-old," he says."My grandfather introduced me to wine as I sat on his knee and I can remember the moment like yesterday." D'Ercole's grandfather knew what he was talking about - he owned a small vineyard himself. And it is access to the quality of products from small producers like his grandfather that D'Ercole now makes available to his customers.
Around 70 per cent of Italyabroad.com's customers are in the restaurant or delicatessen retail sectors. But that's changing steadily as sales from his website show strong growth; in fact, turnover doubled in the last year alone. And demand for his knowledge about Italy continues unabated, which explains why sections of his website offer information about travel and property in Italy - even how to get married there. A very popular section includes reviews of Italian restaurants, by Italians.
D'Ercole's big challenge now is to build on the success of his business in the North-east and to roll that out across the UK. London is firmly in his sights and he's recently engaged a marketing team to build his brand and help develop his business. With supermarket chains coming under ever-increasing criticism, perhaps the day of the true merchant is once more upon us.
Actress sees off speculation about her face in an amazing way
Florida mother launched a petition to ban the sale of the dolls
Marvel has released first teaser trailer week early after it leaked online
- 1 Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name – in favour of its Lumia brand
- 2 Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
- 3 Banksy not arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 Paralysed man Darek Fidyka walks again after treatment by British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis
Ottawa shooting: Canadian soldier dies after being shot at National War Memorial – with one gunman killed inside parliament
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
Isis releases first video showing the stoning of woman accused of committing adultery as her father shouts 'don't call me Dad'
Banksy not arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
Diwali 2014: What is the festival of lights and how is it celebrated around the world?
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
iJobs Money & Business
£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: The SThree group is a world le...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £Competitive: SThree: SThree Group and have be...