Home   News   Article

INVERNESS BID'S PERSON BEHIND THE BUSINESS: Food and drink lover turned passion into two successful city centre businesses

By Rachel Smart

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!

Rob and Sarah Steadman, owners of Merchant's Delicatessen. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Rob and Sarah Steadman, owners of Merchant's Delicatessen. Picture: James Mackenzie.

Rob Steadman, the owner of The Walrus & Corkscrew and Merchant’s Delicatessen discusses his career in events, professional rugby and how he turned his passion into a business...

Q How would you describe both of your businesses?

A The Walrus & Corkscrew is a small wine bar that offers a wide variety of wines along with exquisite cheese and charcuterie platters, using only the very best local produce.

Merchant’s Delicatessen is a high-end food and drink larder offering a range of products produced and sourced from the Highlands and further afield in Scotland, Italy, Spain and France.

Q What led you into the business?

A I’m very lucky that I was able to turn my passion into a business. Having worked in the events industry for 30 years I had the idea that I wanted to have my own small wine bar 10 years before opening. My rugby friends in Toulouse re-ignited my love of fine wine back then, as well as wine being a key part of the events I organised. Originally the plan was to open in Edinburgh, but circumstances and fate, thankfully brought us back to Inverness. I have now achieved my goal along with my wife Sarah. It was meant to be my retirement project but I’m working as hard as ever but with no regrets. We love it!

Q What makes Inverness a great place to run a business?

A Inverness is one of the fastest growing cities in Europe. Despite having the same challenges as high streets throughout the UK I can see Inverness claiming back its vibrancy through small independents like us and we now have our second project Merchant’s Delicatessen in Castle Street up and running which is fantastic. Having worked and lived here in the mid 90’s, I returned in 2018 and set up Walrus and Corkscrew in 2021. For setting up and running a business I see so many positives being based here. I also see many changes over this time and they are not all for the better. I think Inverness has the potential to go so much further but it really needs the backing and the proper support of the public organisations, not necessarily financially but by making it easier for businesses to set up and stay in business without as many barriers to help drive the city onwards. We need to think bigger and not be afraid of the new and get away from the same old, same old. Just because we have 5G doesn’t mean we have joined the big boys. We are still years behind Edinburgh and others in our outlook, especially in tourism, which is a major industry here.

Q What is your greatest achievement?

A I have set up successful businesses for others and I have a couple of World Travel Awards to my name. But I would consider this business and the way it has taken off and worked out to be a great achievement especially since we opened the first weekend that lockdown was lifted and people thought we were mad! Plus I really enjoy it.

Q Who do you admire in business?

A I don’t have any obvious business icons but I liked the way my last boss wasn’t always interested in experience or qualifications. These are things you can gain on the job and they were very keen that whoever was joining the team would be a fit. I think I’ve used that lesson the most to build such a great team in the bar.

Q What’s your advice to budding entrepreneurs?

A Make sure you have a clear plan, the drive, the commitment and the belief in your project, and if you’re as lucky as I am, a supportive partner to sound off to. But don’t be shy in biting the bullet and giving it a go – life is too short.

Q Can you tell us more about yourself?

A I started my career in theatre and stage management. After some time in Australia working in both outdoor education and various venues I realised the events industry might be the way forward. I went back to Edinburgh to gain my post graduate diploma in Leisure Recreation Management. I was offered the post of Events and Marketing Manager at what was then Inverness District Council where I really cut my teeth on large scale events. I’m the guy who organised the big fireworks displays that are still going on, dating back to ’93!! I then left to work in professional rugby, including for the Glasgow Reds (Glasgow Warriors) with Ian McLauchlan ‘Mighty Mouse’. Over the next 20 years I accidentally became a stately home start up specialist, opening up and running two stately homes in East Lothian for events. I’m an ex-rugby player, and I’m a fan and a sponsor of Highland Rugby club.

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More