John Shepherd, owner and managing director of Partridges, on 46 years in the business and the importance of charity.


John's older brother Richard opened the original Partridges on Sloane Street in 1972.

It wasn't until 1981 that John joined him and he hasn't looked back in 46 years.

Partridges moved to Duke of York Square in 2004.

It is one of very few family-run food shops left in central London.

“We are often approached to open branches in other locations.

“But we like to think that Chelsea is our home,” he said.

“Most of our customers are locals and we have around 1,500 customers per day.

“We are a speciality food shop,” he says.

“Generally the most popular items are our own-label range of wines, honeys, teas, jute bags, smoked salmon, champagne, gin and chocolates, as they are not available anywhere else.

“We also sell a lot of cheese and charcuterie and ready meals from the deli and plenty of savouries and cakes from the bakery section – including Chelsea buns, of course.”

And the business does more than most to support the local community and charities.


“For the past two years we have donated £1 to the Royal Hospital for every bottle of Chelsea Flower Gin sold,” he says.

But that's not the end of the charity-giving.

“We have a ‘free to exhibit’ art gallery in the café for local artists.

“We support Holy Trinity Church when we can and produce their harvest loaf every year,” he says.



Help for the elderly, homeless and children

“We give pensioners a 10-per-cent discount on everything except for spirits, newsprint and cigarettes.

“And, we provide bacon sarnies and coffee to all those who sleep out on the square in October every year [for the Big Sleep Out], which is organised by the homeless charity Glass Door.

“This year we created the World Chelsea Bun Awards. Proceeds went to the Chelsea Children’s Hospital Charity.

“We also try to give hampers and gifts each year to charity when approached by local customers and businesses at Christmas time – around 16 charities in recent months.

“We created the Startisans initiative to support start-up artisans at the Saturday food market and we offer some of them shelf space on the shop floor.”



The popular shop has also won awards.

“The market on the square was voted Best Market Attraction at the Great British Markets Awards in 2016.

“We won a Time Out Love London Award also in 2016 and were awarded Family Retail Business of the Year in 2015 by Family Business United,” he said.

“On a personal level, in 1994 I was granted a Royal Warrant by HM the Queen as a grocer. In 2007 I was appointed President of the Royal Warrant Holders Association. This year is Partridges 25th anniversary as Royal Warrant holders.”



For the full interview in Sloane Square magazine, read here.

To find out more about Partridges, read here.