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Mr Singh - Why Exeter

Mr Singh at Heera

If you’ve ever walked past or visited the Heera International Supermarket, in Well Street, the chances are that you’ll remember the smells rather than anything else. Whether it’s their huge range of wonderful spices or the freshly baked samosas or bhajis, this place is a truly tantalising taste sensation!

Heera’s owner, Mr Singh, made Exeter his home in 1960 and therefore is well placed to tell us what he thinks of the city and how it’s changed over the years.

Mr Singh was born in India but has lived in the UK since the age of 14. His elder brother recommended coming to Exeter because of its proximity to beautiful scenery. Intrigued, Mr Singh came and hasn’t ever left!

Heera started trading in 1973, and it’s fair to say that this wonderful place has gone from strength to strength ever since. With a growing number of international residents in the city, Mr Singh says that it’s never been more important to supply a good variety of food, which includes no less than 15 different types of gluten free flour!

He added: “When Exeter had an influx of Europeans (predominantly Polish and Lithuanians), we were the first supermarket to stock their food items. I believe it helped people settle quickly as they could instantly purchase products they were used to buying and eating. Similarly, we are a big source for many international students. People who are far from home for the first time and find some comfort in eating food they are used to or know.

“Since the pandemic more and more people have been spending time at home and one of the most popular activities was cooking. We offer food enthusiasts and the adventurers’ availability to ingredients they cannot source elsewhere in Exeter or Devon.”

We asked Mr Singh what the best thing about owning and running Heera is:

“I love interacting with people from different backgrounds and walks of life. I also love to learn about food and culture of other countries and how people use a certain ingredient – this is how we have built up our product list, people come in and ask for an item and then we source it and more people end up buying it. Ultimately, it’s a family business and a home from home. We have a common goal, and all want it to succeed”

Heera supplies food products from many different countries, including India, China, Thailand, Japan, the Philippines, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, Africa and the Caribbean, although even Mr Singh admits that there are so many, he and his team don’t know how half of them are used!

So having been in the city since 1960, we were keen to find out what Mr Singh appreciates most about Exeter.

He told us: “I like how it feels like a local town as opposed to a city. It is a lot more diverse than it was before with more cultures and backgrounds now living in the city. It’s close to the coast, the moors and is generally a lovely part of the country to live in. It’s not too big and therefore you are able get around easily.

“I like that it has bags of history, it’s close to local beaches, and it’s where my family and I call home.”

Mr Singh’s favourite Exeter haunts are:

  • Exeter Quay
  • Exeter University grounds
  • Exeter city centre
  • Walking along the rivers and canals

Find out more about Heera:

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