Smitten by Britain
Wort.lu/en is running a series of articles covering different nationality shops around the Grand Duchy. Here is the first about Little Britain....
(JB) Luxembourg's only British food store Little Britain is more than just a local store. Small on the outside, yet cavernous on the inside, its rows of British and US goods provide both solace for the stomach and soul, offering a crucial link home for many a homesick ex-pat.
Here, manager Philippe Spann and father Gordon recall Little Britain's unstoppable growth during the last 16 years and explain why it attracts more than just the Brits.
How did Little Britain get started?
Philippe: My mother, Nadine, decided to open a British store in 1996. There was one other shop at the time that was the Magasin Anglais at the Glacis.
It started off with just a few products in a store that was about 100 metres squared in Strassen. Then we moved to a bigger space down the road and eventually ended up here in Capellen with a 500 m2 shop, tea room and book store.
What role does the shop play in helping newly arrived ex-pats get settled?
Philippe: I think that we play a little role in helping people get together.
Gordon: I'm sure for people who are new to Luxembourg, they try to find a hold to their own communities through the shop. Most English-speaking people who know about us will always recommend us to new arrivals. It's funny to see some peoples' faces light up when they see the selection we have.
And how important is the shop for the English-speaking community in general?
G - I think in some respects we're also a bit like the local pub you'd find back in the UK. People come here to meet friends and get a friendly service.
Tell us about your products?
P - Our most popular products are probably the sausages. You just can't find sausages like them in Luxembourg. We sell a lot of Hovis and other home brands, tea and cereals and we also do a large range of gifts and greetings cards. It's not just British goods. We have a lot of US foods as well such as peanut butter, cake mixes, Pop Tarts, Lucky Charms, Root Beer and Kraft dinners.
We've also started to stock more gluten-free and vegetarian products. And we're always trying new things.
Sometimes we get asked if we can stock Sainsbury's and Tesco's own brand stuff. Unfortunately, we just can't do that.
How do you cope with competition from the big supermarkets?
P - It's not really a problem for us because supermarkets don't stock the same choice of British and US products as we do. Admittedly, they charge a little bit less. We can't help that because we don't buy in the same quantities they do and we have to make a living. They don't supply the kind of fresh produce you can get at Little Britain like sausages and Hovis bread.
G - I think that people come here for the service as much as anything.
Who are your customers?
P - When the shop was smaller it used to be just Brits but now we get all nationalities. We have a group of South Africans who used the café. The British Ladies Club also meets there. We get Brits, Americans, Canadians as well as people from the Scandinavian countries. We also get a few curious Luxembourgers and people from the local school buying English language books.
What are Little Britain's plans for the future?
P - We've heard there are plans to build a commercial development next door. If that happens, we'd like to move the café there and extend the shop space. We're also looking at doing more wholesale with the local bars and restaurants- selling old-fashioned, additive-free drinks like the Fentimans brand.
Location and opening times
Most people know the route d'Arlon that passes in front of the Belle Etoile shopping centre in Strassen. Just keep going until you hit Capellen, easy!
1C, Route d'Arlon
Tel: (+352) 26310856
Fax: (+352) 26310876
Tuesday - Friday: 8am - 6pm
Saturday: 9am - 6pm
Sunday: 9am - 2pm