In 2002, exactly 17 years now, Thomas Sullivan, a core Irish with no African background relinquished his position as chief executive of a massive company to pursue a dream of owning his own company (Tom’s Lucky Trading Company). With a vision so bulky, he found that they were very little African stores in Ireland and yet the demands for African products were excessively high.
Wanting to help, he launched his own company that would be a major supplier of all kinds of African food products so much so that the problem of soaring back to African for foodstuffs would be curbed within the best possible measures.
Today, he prides himself as a force in African foods produces, just as his company has greatly expanded and seeing great successes. Although the competition to stay atop speaks volume, yet, a lot of people mainly Africans have been massively impacted through his company.
Thecircular.org had the rare privilege to connect with the CEO of the massive African food company in a brief interview.
How would you describe Tom’s Lucky Trading Company, what inspired its creation?
I would describe myself as a passionate, good-humoured and interestingly fun person.I started African food 17 years ago. My love for Africans drove me into establishing a company that could cater for their wellbeing and that enthusiasm dates back to my former job. We were very big Irish vegetable company and we sold a lot of spinach. And mainly I use to look after all imports from France, Italy, and Spain. As people started coming in from about 22 years back, roaming around in Dublin for things to buy, Africans especially who were seeking spinach.
One day, a lady said to me “do you not have fresh vegetables and plantain?” and at that stage, I did not know what yam or plantain was! And I said; look, I will check it out for you someplace else. So I brought myself to an African store thereafter to have a look at all the stuff they sell and I was amazed at all the things they had. Frozen things like; turkey gizzard, chicken gizzard, and all the tropical foodstuffs that I now have in my warehouse and never knew even existed.
I did research, got very familiar with the names of certain African food and I had travel to 8 different companies in London and beyond to check and compare the prices around the country.
How did you survive the market upon your emergence?
Well, I discovered that my competitors in my view were robbing their own people, otherwise, they were buying some foodstuff for X amount of euro and selling it at exorbitant prices which I believe there was no need to hike although I don’t know if that is the way you do in Africa.
So I’d say my competitors opened the door for me because they gave me a chance and a challenge.
Most of your competitors in Dublin deal on Asian foods as well. Have you given a thought to incorporating that to your African food supplies?
No! A lot of people come and go too easily because they try to get too big, too quick and too fast. And ideally, you have to concentrate on one thing. There are some competitors, but not competitors of mine, who are into Asian foods and things like that. And I tell them, if you don’t put 100% efforts into working the best of your ability, you tend to collapse trying to combine everything at the same time.
Where do you see Tom’s Lucky Trading Company in the near Future?
I do want to expand in the near future. Move into a bigger warehouse. I intend to make more importations likewise to make it more competitive and bigger. Although I don’t believe in monopolizing certain aspects of my job no matter what.