Authentic Polish cuisine
Mleczko Delicatesy Ltd is a specialist Polish delicatessen that offers high quality Polish food at competitive prices
Starting with a single shop in 1995 in Shepherd’s Bush, Mleczko Delikatesy has grown into a small specialist chain of Polish delicatessen that is predominantly based in West London. The company, started by Wladyslaw Mleczko, is now run by his sons Michael and Tony. Mleczko provides customers with fresh quality food at unbeatable prices at its 12 stores. Five of the company’s shops are located strategically in the borough of Ealing where there is a vast Polish community; while this area of London naturally has a number of Polish stores selling similar Polish cuisine, Mleczko Delikatesy differentiates itself by ensuring it is accessible and welcoming to non-Polish speakers who want to discover new foods in the local area at a competitive price.
“My father opened our first delicatessen in Shepherd’s Bush in 1995, with a second store opened in Hanwell in 2000. In 2004, when Polish and Eastern European EU citizens were allowed to travel freely there was an influx of Polish people, which is when my father and I saw an opportunity to expand. Since then, we have opened a store in Greenford in 2006, South Ealing in late 2006, Cranford in 2007, Hounslow in 2008 and we continued to grow until we reached 12 stores. Year-on-year turnover has increased, which is partly due to the fact our shops are located in deliberately targeted areas that have a strong Polish community and good logistics,” says Michael Mleczko.
“Each store has a different customer profile, so our stores in Croydon and Shepherd’s Bush are 50 per cent non-Polish, while our stores in Hounslow and Slough are 70 per cent Polish. We believe there is a lot of potential in the English market, as the food is good and better value than equivalent products in the supermarkets,” he adds.
By focusing on produce, service, pricing and logistics, the company has gained a reputation for excellence, with the company’s shops well-supported by the local Polish community and English customers alike who are seeking high quality Polish goods or brands. Mleczko Delikatesy has also generated a strong customer base that travels from outside London to stock up on traditional Polish food. These items include fresh meat, a wide range of cold and processed meats, such as ham, salami and kielbasa (smoked sausages), freshly baked bread, cakes and pastries; pickles, relishes and soups, tinned and fresh fruit and vegetables; frozen foods, drinks such as Polish beer, spirits and fruit juices, confectionary, chocolates and candies and traditional Polish dumplings with a variety of fillings.
Dairy products are also very popular with customers as they are high quality and sourced carefully from dairies such as Czarnkow, which is an experienced and passionate producer of award-winning products. Those available to customers include extra curd cheese ‘twarog’, an outstanding, creamy, smooth and delicate cheese that has won over many consumers. Additionally, Czarnkow’s desserts for children beat the competition thanks to their nutritious value, natural ingredients and a great taste that is achieved through using fresh cream and cocoa.
Fresh meat and bread
“We have our own butchers in three of our stores, Slough, Hanwell and Shepherd’s Bush, where fresh meat is provided to these locations and to our other stores. We also have our own bakery and bake our own bread from Polish recipes. We have some very good multi grain bread, whole wheat bread and bread without flour that is made from seeds, which brings people in. The English customers particularly like our bakery products and cakes as well as our dairy products, which are very good value. All dairy products come from Poland, we have roughly seven trucks a week that go to our warehouse, which isn’t far from Heathrow on the M4. This strong logistical position enables us to get around London easily and deliver fresh products to all of our stores quickly,” explains Michael.
He continues: “In terms of our supply chain, we have a buyer and a warehouse in Poland and we deal direct with producers and wholesales in the country. The goods are then delivered to our warehouse in Poland before being delivered to the UK; these items take a day-and-a-half to two days to arrive in the UK and the process is straight-forward at the moment. However, this may change after Brexit, as any border delays would severely impact on our business. Also, if people aren’t going to be allowed to travel in and out of the UK with a degree of ease, the country will be less attractive, this will have a direct effect on our business as well as I think many other businesses. Part of the attraction of the UK is its openness”
Despite the potential upcoming challenges facing Mleczko Delikatesy, the company is continuing to grow and was recently added to The London Stock Exchange’s 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain Report. “It was a big surprise for us to qualify for such an award,” says Michael. “We are very proud as a Polish-focused business in the UK to receive this, as it is a positive change in how Polish food and companies are viewed.”
Keen to remain a success, Mleczko Delikatesy is opening up new areas to expand into. For example, its Slough store now has a cosmetic shop that sells high quality Polish cosmetics at a low cost and has a developing bakery portfolio. “While we are sourcing out ways to continue growing, we also want to catch up with our period of expansion and put in place all of the various controls and expertise that will help us to develop further. When you grow quickly, there is a lot of tidying up to do!”
With a new store in Wood Green due to open before Christmas 2017, the company sees a great deal of opportunity to grow, both in Poland and the UK. “In terms of our UK operations, it is a matter of continuing as we are. If we don’t have a hard Brexit, we will look to other areas in the UK where there are established Polish communities. However, it is important that if we are moving further afield we can still supply to our stores from our warehouse. With our good reputation, we see many possibilities for the future,” he concludes. D