Small Business

A Salt-Seller Feels the Pinch


A four-person company on the Island of Anglesey, off the Welsh coast, has received good news -- and bad. The glad tidings came when best-selling British cookbook author Delia Smith hailed the Anglesey Sea Salt Co.'s chemical-free product. The worries began when the owners began to wonder how they would ever cope with the inevitable surge in demand that follows one of Smith's endorsements.

For 30 years, the author of the How to Cook series has entertained and educated the British public with a no-nonsense approach to cooking. When she says something is worth trying, her devoted fans do just that -- in droves.

"We are a just a small company of four people -- myself, my partner, and two others," says co-owner David Lea-Wilson, who learned of his company's sudden fame when Smith sent a postcard to warn that she would be extolling his product on her Web site.

ANTICIPATION/DREAD. "We can't take any more orders until we get planning permission to enlarge our business premises," laments Lea-Wilson, who hastens to add that he appreciates what the celebrity chef's kind words will do for his bottom line. "Delia's recommendation is a boost to our expansion plans, and we hope it will help us employ many more people on the island in future," he says.

Why does Smith like the Welsh product? It seems the clean nature of sea salt suits her tastes. In her TV series, Delia's How To Cook 2, which is based on her book of the same name, she has pronounced in favor of Maldon sea salt -- a similar product from Essex, England -- for rubbing on baked potatoes to produce a crispy crust.

Lea-Wilson says the benefits of salt go a lot further than creating a tasty 'tater. "The body needs salt," he says. "Research shows it actually helps convey electrical currents from one part of the brain to the other."

Perhaps, after years of salt exposure, Lea-Wilson will be able to fire up those brain currents and figure out a way to take full advantage of Smith's enthusiasm for his wares. By Robin J. Phillips in New York


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