Champion of the Week
Meet our Chesterfield Champion of the Week: Simon Davidson, Owner of The Cheese Factor
I’m Simon Davidson, Owner of The Cheese Factor. And I’m proud to say that our family business celebrates its sixtieth year in 2020.
Last year we won Market Hall Business of the Year at the Chesterfield Retail Awards, as well as reaching the final in the Food and Drink category. I’m proud of my manager, Georgina and the full team; everyone does a fantastic job and makes it a pleasure to come to work each day.
It’s been great to see the town pulling together during recent challenges. At The Cheese Factor, we’ve been thinking creatively to support customers through self-isolation and social distancing, we’ve launched a ring and collect service and an online shop. And we’ve taken some of the team off furlough after seeing a steady increase in business customers.
Describe something you have seen, heard about or experienced locally that has made you smile.
The key worker scarecrows on Walton Road made me chuckle. It was great to see the community coming together with tributes to nurses, doctors, refuse collectors, postal workers and more. They made me smile so much that I decided to boost their fundraising for Chesterfield Royal Hospital by £500, bringing the total raised close to £2,000.
How have you or your team been thinking creatively to keep your business succeeding or to maintain strong relationships with your customers and suppliers?
As well as creating an online shop to make it easier for customers, we’ve also been bringing together people through social media – from the history of the business to a fun quiz. We’ve been keeping customers up to date with our e-newsletters and will soon be reviving our loyalty scheme – rewarding customers with a free item as a thank you for shopping with us.
What have you or your company been doing to support the mental health of your team?
The team is like a family to me and I always want to be there for them and be as supportive as I can be. I created a WhatsApp group for furloughed team members. It’s been a good way to connect with the team. I’ve been adding funny videos and and everyone has been joining in with the banter.
How are you, your business or your team supporting local people (or what are your plans to do this in the future)?
I’m part of the Market Traders Federation. Chesterfield Market has a deep history in the town and I’m keen see it thrive. There are high-quality businesses like Ibbotson’s and Steph’s Sustainable Stuff, and it would be brilliant to see more traders setting up alongside them. I’m looking forward to the Council’s reconfiguration plans for the market after they agreed a £1.4m project to revitalise the town centre.
I’m one of 180 Chesterfield Champions working with Destination Chesterfield to promote the town and attract more investment. I sponsor the Chesterfield Food and Drink Festival and I support local businesses through the Food and Drink Forum.
Which business idea or community initiative has impressed you recently and why?
Just like The Cheese Factor, companies have been reinventing themselves to support local people. Cafes such as No 10 The Tea Room have been offering deliveries of food, as well as wholesalers like Winster Foods. Pizza Pi is one of many restaurants in Chesterfield now delivering by working with City Taxis. I hope people will continue to shop and trade locally in the future.
What is the best thing about working or running a business in Chesterfield or North Derbyshire?
I’ve been impressed by the Borough Council’s speed in distributing the Covid-19 grant to rateable businesses such as ours, and it is good that rent for Market traders has been deferred without interest. And the team at Destination Chesterfield has reminded us regularly that they are here to help us with business support and marketing activity. As well as marketing through Chesterfield Champions, I also have a listing on their Supporting Local page.
What advice would you give to someone who is keen to establish or evolve a business in Chesterfield and North Derbyshire?
For someone setting up a shop, I would recommend thinking carefully about the location to make sure you attract a good footfall. Being based next to Chesterfield Market, there are more customers when events like Street Food and Grooves and Chesterfield Motorfest are taking place, and I’d love to see more of these in the future.
I would also suggest trying to negotiate your rent to get a good deal over a few years and making sure you consider all your overheads to prevent any surprises once open. There are business advisers you can speak to locally, as well as your accountant or solicitor.
The town’s marketing campaign, Destination Chesterfield is preparing to celebrate its 10th anniversary in October 2020. What is your favourite memory of Chesterfield and North Derbyshire over the past 10 years?
Something that I’d describe as absolutely splendid was the Chesterfield Observation Wheel. I remember walking to town with the kids and it had been snowing. It was dramatic seeing the white flakes across all of the local landmarks such as the Crooked Spire and the Market Hall. Well done to Chesterfield Borough Council for bringing it to the town. They didn’t pay for it (like some thought they did) and it attracted long queues of people who also visited shops in the town.
What is your vision for Chesterfield and North Derbyshire in 2030? What do you think the town needs to achieve this?
I’m looking forward to seeing developments such as Chesterfield Waterside and Peak Resort coming to fruition. And my dream is to see Chesterfield Market thriving with 60-70 stall holders and even more popular outdoor events for local people and visitors to enjoy.