FRANCO Margiotta is celebrating 50 years as an Edinburgh shopkeeper this week by giving all his customers 10 per cent off products as a thank you.
The owner of Edinburgh grocery shop chain Margiotta, who is honouring five decades as a shopkeeper, will turn 65 next month.
Born in Picinisco, about 100 miles east of Rome, Franco was nine years old when he and his family left Italy for economic reasons. The family lived in a quiet, rural part of the country and with World War Two having taken its toll on Italy, there were few if any jobs to be had. The Margiottas arrived in Edinburgh in 1957.
The family always had a connection with Scotland. Franco’s maternal grandfather had four cafes across Royal Deeside and one in Stonehaven, where Franco’s mother was born. However, his grandfather moved back to Italy in 1935, when Franco’s mother was 13 years old.
Franco went to school at St Anthony’s in Leith. His family owned a number of ice-cream vans, which he and his brother helped out on when they weren’t at school.
When Franco left school at 15, his father, his brother and himself rented out a shop on St Mary’s Street and started to sell ice-cream, tobacco and confectionery.
Over the years, the business has expanded and there are now six stores across the city.
Franco insists he prefers selling grocery items rather than ice-cream. He says: “Selling ice-cream in Scotland isn’t easy. Because of the weather, it is so cold that nearly nobody wants any, but in the summer everyone wants some so it would get very busy. With ice-cream it is either a feast or a famine ... usually famine.”
Franco says he has had many highs as a shopkeeper and an enjoyable time working in Edinburgh with “not a lot of low moments at all”.
Margiotta is special due to a combination of factors. Franco says: “Margiotta has good customer service, it is value for money, all of the shops have a nice clean environment. However, I think, besides all of these things, it is our dedication towards local suppliers. We have a long relationship with our suppliers. We pride ourselves on selling the best local and organic produce. We are also a fairtrade shop. Along with all this great produce we also sell all of the favourite brands as well.”
Franco’s four children – three girls and one boy – have all been involved with the chain over the years, and he has no intention of retiring just yet.
He is planning on opening another store in the Polwarth area in January 2014. He is planning to continue with his progress and continue to serve the people of Edinburgh as the Capital’s largest independent food retailer.
Margiotta’s 10 per cent discount deal will finish on this Saturday – St Andrew’s Day.