Business announced for new Ipswich shopping centre
DESPITE growing up in a fruit shop business, Rob Sayle Senior had never eaten a pineapple, mango, passionfruit or rock melon until he was in his late teens.
The offerings were a little different in his father's London fruit shop in the '40s and '50s so it wasn't until he moved to Australia that his eyes were opened to the world of tropical fruit.
Decades on, the Sayle family will open its next fruit and vegetable venture at the new Yamanto Central, adding to its already established Booval Fair Harvest Markets.
Rob Sayle Junior will take helm of the new venture while his son, 22-year-old Tyson, will continue at the Booval Fair shop meaning the family is now in its fourth generation in the fruit industry.
"Actually when I first came here the first job I had worked at a fruit shop. That was in early 1965," Rob Snr said.
"And it was completely different in the '60s. There was no refrigeration in the shops... so you had to know your product. It had to be bought and sold within one or two days."
Rob Snr realised he was a bit out of his depth when it came to the local fruit market and spent the next 10 years working in other industries.
Once he understood the Australian market he bought a fruit businesses in Brisbane before buying Harvest Markets in Ipswich. That was in 1981.
Rob Snr said there were three key aspects of selling fruit. Firstly the flavour, secondly the price and thirdly the presentation. That approach to selling fruit hasn't changed for the Sayle family even though the industry and consumer behaviour has evolved.
"Go back to 30 years ago, say something basic like avocados. You love avocados. Everyone loves avocados," he said.
"But 30 years ago we would sell 30 or 40 avocados a week.
"You would put out one tray at a time up and be lucky to sell all of them.
"Now you go in to a shop, whether it's a supermarket or a fruit shop and there's hundreds of them.
"I didn't even stock blueberries. And lettuce, you only had your normal ice berg lettuce, now you go in to the shops and you have six or seven varieties.
"We had normal round tomatoes, maybe a few cherries and few egg or roma tomatoes."
He said one of the main influences on changing consumer behaviour was the popularity of cooking shows over the past decade or so.
Regardless of the changes, the Sayle family is still passionate about the industry which led to the Harvet Markets signing on to be a tenant at the new Yamanto Central development.
Rob Snr said as his family grew, it was looking to expand the business and create opportunities for the next generation.
"We believe in what the boys are doing at a Yamanto. They want to create a supermarket with a good food base," he said.
"There's no shopping centre really that has a strong food base in Ipswich.
"At Yamanto the plan is to have a butcher, a baker and the fruiterer. We see that as something that is different for Ipswich.
"I think it's going to be a unique shopping experience in Ipswich."