Mulberrys: Denis Shankland

How Denis Shankland found the recipe for success

Denis Shankland’s catering background led him to found one of Glasgow’s most popular dining establishments. He tells about his appetite for success.

Name: Denis Shankland Age: 51 What does your business do: Restaurant Business name: Mulberrys Number of employees: I started 4 years ago with 3 and now have 9

What made you take the plunge and start your own business? It was something I had always wanted to do. I had spent 27 years in the textile industry, but what I really enjoyed was cooking and I wanted to run my own restaurant – so I did.

Where did you get the funding to start up your own business? I funded it myself, along with the help of a business partner, although he is not involved in the day to day running of the business.

At what age did you decide to go it alone? I was 47.

Where did the idea for your business come from? My friends had a lot to do with it – I gave a lot of dinner parties and they were always telling me I should cook for a living.

How long did it take from your start up idea to your first day of trading? In November 1998, I decided I was going to open my own restaurant and by August the following year, it was up and running.

Did you have help from friends and family? I’ve had a lot of help and encouragement from my friends and family – when I started up they all said they would support me and they have. They’ve been great.

What academic qualifications did you get? I did a food hygiene course and a licensed trader’s course.

Did they help you and if not what course would have helped you? I feel that my success is more a result of the combination of common sense, along with creativity in the kitchen.

What jobs did you do before you started your own business? I started out as a window dresser and worked my way up to Merchandising Director with the same company, before leaving to set up Mulberrys.

Did they help you? I gained a lot of experience in dealing with customers, which has come in very useful in my new role.

What skills and personal characteristics do you need to start your own business? An unshakeable belief in what you’re aiming to do and 100 per cent commitment.

What’s the single most important thing that helped your business succeed? The personal touch – being flexible and accommodating customers’ needs

How many hours a week do you work now? 80-90, the same as when I started

What is your top tip to anyone wanting to start up his or her own business? Think it all through very carefully, make sure you have a business plan and enlist the support of your friends and family.

Where do you see your business in a year’s time? It’s doing very well at the moment, as there’s a three week waiting period for a table on a Friday or Saturday night, so we end up sometimes having to turn people away. I have been asked by customers to set up another branch of Mulberrys, which I’m considering, so I might well expand things in the future.

Are your main ambitions financial or lifestyle based? I don’t do it for the money – I love what I do.

Would you start another business? Yes – I’ve really enjoyed starting up Mulberrys, so you never know.


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