New expat shop rides Brexit wave

From left: Mark Hollis and John Heffernan will officially open Home from Home on 28 October. But starting 19 October, customers can already get shopping! Maison Moderne

From left: Mark Hollis and John Heffernan will officially open Home from Home on 28 October. But starting 19 October, customers can already get shopping! Maison Moderne

Two Brits are hoping to ride the Brexit wave of companies moving UK operations to Luxembourg by opening a new international grocery store.

When Home from Home officially opens in Strassen on 28 October, it will offer a wide range of products from food to books and giftware from English-speaking countries around the world.

“There’s a lot of expats in Luxembourg and obviously there are more expats coming, especially with Brexit. We’re finding more and more companies are relocating,” one of the two co-founders, Mark Hollis, told Delano on Friday.

Hollis and fellow business partner John Heffernan have both lived in Luxembourg for over 15 years and formerly worked as voice brokers in the finance industry. When the job shifted to screen work, they found themselves looking for a new challenge.

The pair said they got the idea to open a store when Capellen-based Little Britain closed in 2016. Having worked directly with customers for many years in their previous careers, they knew they had the right personalities for the new venture even if they lacked shop-keeping experience.

“We both spent a long time in finance speaking to customers. The customer is always right. It applies here as well,” Hollis joked.

After many months of planning, they took out a lease on a 100m2 site at 148 route d’Arlon, located in and around the international communes of Strassen, Bertrange and Mamer. And a short time ago they put out a call online to ask the international community what sort of products they wanted to see on the shelves.

Some of the international produce and brands on offer in Home from Home. Staff photo.

“The amount of feedback we got is unbelievable. The number of people who said can you get this or that. It’s like a wish list,” Hollis said.

At the time of interview, the pair were still awaiting several deliveries. But the shelves were filled with many products which are highly-sought after by expats, such as pumpkin purée, Quality Street and Heroes sweets, Marmite, Vegemite and Branston’s Pickle, not to mention the selection of gluten-free products.

Once fully stocked, they expect to offer around 50 different kinds of tea, fresh meat products (provided by a Kent-based butcher), frozen and chilled produce, and seasonal items such as fresh turkey, Christmas crackers and Christmas puddings.

“I think the important thing is to make sure that we’re constantly supplied. If people want to make a special order, we can probably have it within a week,” Heffernan said.

Home from Home will sell greetings cards, have a small corner dedicated to books, provided by the Little English Bookworm, and a community noticeboard. They will also stock a range from the Helen Patton Foundation, proceeds from the sale of which go to helping war veterans, and later plan to sell monthly magazines.

“We cannot wait to open. We think it’s going to go really well,” Hollis said.

Home from Home will officially open on 28 October with festive events for the public from 1pm. Before then customers can shop from a more limited selection of stock from Thursday 19 October.

The shop will be open weekdays from 8:30am to 6:30pm, Saturdays from 9am to 6pm and Sundays from 9am to 1pm.

To find out more, visit www.homefromhome.lu.