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Visitor Centre, Cafe and Potential Accommodation on the North Coast 500 Route

Mellon Charles, Scottish Highlands
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Aroma Cafe / Rightbiz


The Perfume Studio and Aroma Café is a purpose built property which commenced trading in 2006. The business for sale has two income streams; the sales of refreshments and retail sales through the gift shop. The building is of modern construction and features an open-plan café, to seat around 30, benefiting from stunning south facing views across Loch Ewe to the spectacular Torridon Mountains. There is also external bench seating for around 20 customers. Throughout, the property is presented to a high standard and the café benefits from Italian floor tiles, modern pendant lights and quality spotlighting which add to the feel of quality. The cafe is furnished with attractive Rattan style chairs and pine tables which generates a bistro-style atmosphere. A freestanding wood-burning stove with bespoke Caithness stone hearth and exposed flue further adds to the character. The shop has a wonderful ambience with high quality wall and free-standing display units supplemented by charming and subtle lighting. There is a studio and production area which can be used for a range of activities or converted into living accommodation. 

On the catering side The Aroma Café provides a range of home-made baking, snacks, sandwiches, light lunches and homemade soups. These are complemented by a full range of beverages, from specialist coffees and teas to minerals and soft drinks. Adjacent to the café is the gift shop which has a lovely ambience and character offering an excellent choice of high quality specialist gifts and fashion items. The shop is renowned for the sale of soaps, toiletries, skincare cremes and fragrances; this significantly differentiates it from other tourist gift shops in the Highlands. The comprehensive displays accommodate a good range of quality gift items, many being of Scottish origin or relevant to the culture and environment of the local area. These vary from season to season but generally include books, jewellery, accessories, pottery, cushions, Harris Tweed, glassware, children's items and cards. (The manufacture of soaps cremes and fragrances will not form part of the sale but the present owner is prepared to continue to supply these items to the new owners with a contract to support this commitment.)

The 830 sq ft open-plan space at the rear of the building (presently used for workshops and manufacturing) provides an opportunity to create living accommodation or introduce a new feature; i.e. art studio, jewellery workshop etc. subject to necessary consents. 

The Perfume Studio and Aroma Café are open from 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Sunday and close on Mondays. The business trades profitably from a seasonal model, opening from April to October. The smart modern facilities and clever mix of retail and cafe dining have created a strong client base and a high level of repeat trade.

The Perfume Studio is well-signed benefiting from brown tourist signs and markings on OS maps. The business is marketed in several ways, including 14,000 leaflets annually throughout the Highlands, in accommodation Bedroom Guides, NC500 literature, Visit Scotland, sponsorship on the local radio  as well as in various tourist maps and online tourist promotional sites.

The Perfume Studio and Aroma Café are located adjacent to the North Coast 500 tourist route which generates a great deal of trade. The West Coast of Scotland is famous for its micro-climate, spectacular countryside and rugged mountains which in turn meet the stunning coastline and beautiful beaches. Adding the climatic effects of the Gulf Stream to this wonderful scenery and the welcoming community spirit, the business certainly has a prime trading base. This scenic area is understandably popular with tourists and the range of serviced and self-catering accommodation providers in the vicinity are quick to recommend the Aroma Café facilities to their guests. Local residents add to demand as do those who have second homes / holiday cottages in the locale.

Not only does the scenery attract people to the area, neighbouring sea cliffs are a favourite with ornithologists and the area has a wealth of wildlife to attract the naturalist. Majestic mountains offer a variety of climbing opportunities and there are more leisurely walking routes. Sea fishing and sailing are other popular local pursuits. Wester Ross itself is a well-established visitor destination aided by the National Trust’s Inverewe Gardens, only 8 miles away, which attracts over 60,000 visitors each year.

Mellon Charles is a sprawling hamlet and the nearest major community is Aultbea which is lively and welcoming. The village has a well-stocked village shop, post office, doctor’s surgery, garage, nursery and pre-school facility. The Aultbea Hotel has a fine reputation. There is a primary school at Poolewe, 8 miles away, and also at Bualnaluib, one mile from Aultbea. Gairloch (12 miles away) has a secondary school as well as pre and primary schooling. There is a strong local community with many local events from cinema to live music in Aultbea, Poolewe and Gairloch, as well as Art Galleries and a new Museum Centre which will bring additional tourists into the area when it opens in spring 2019.  There is a leisure centre in Gairloch with a large number of fitness classes locally including Pilates, Zumba, and Yoga.

Further shops and amenities are available in Gairloch, Ullapool and Dingwall. Inverness, the Highlands capital, has all the facilities of a major city, including its airport and mainline rail services.

The present owners purchased the business in 2009 and it is being sold due to a desire to focus on their photography and production interests. The Aroma Cafe is offered for sale as a purpose-built facility with the benefit of strong turnover and profitability.

Largely block built under a pitched slate roof, the premises has accommodation arranged over 2 levels. The building is cleverly designed and built around an old croft house, with a significant local provenance.

The main entry faces onto the spacious car park. A modern double glazed outer door opens into the entrance foyer which benefits from a fully tiled floor and contains tourist information, maps, leaflets, a notice board etc. Straight ahead a glazed inner door opens into the café which has an aisle of Scottish produce to the left prior to opening into the main Aroma Café itself. Furnished in a bistro style, the cafe enjoys high quality finishings throughout and exceptional views. Internally the café has 32 covers complemented by further outside bench and table type seating which accommodates an additional 20 covers. Adjoining the café is the main gift shop which offers an excellent selection of well merchandised gifts. The display capability, internal lighting and quality of the premises gives the shop character and sophistication. Adjoining the gift shop is the small gallery which displays a range of paintings, photographs etc.

The cafe has an excellent, well equipped open plan kitchen which has a preparation area and separate adjacent store room which accommodates fridges / freezer, vegetable store, dry goods store etc.

The premises have restrooms suitable for ladies / gents and disabled patrons together with a separate W.C. for staff.

The present owners do not live on the premises but have sought pre-planning advice in respect to the space which is currently utilised as the perfume manufacture and photography workshop area, to turn this into owner’s accommodation. The planning office has stated that ‘there are no material planning considerations identified at this time that would prevent granting planning permission’. Details of the pre-planning advice can be obtained directly from the selling agents ASG Commercial Ltd. This area of the property could be converted without reducing the current trading floor space.

The building sits within a circa 0.5 acre site benefitting from stunning views. Parking which is laid to gravel, accommodates up to 2 full sized coaches and 40 cars. From the car park customers have access to a charming nature trail which winds down from the cafe to the foreshore; the trail has informative notices regarding the flora, fauna and geological aspects of the area. On the seaward side of the café is bench table seating which is popular during the summer months. To the rear of the building is a Portakabin which can be used for storage etc.

The property benefits from mains electricity, water and drainage. The building has oil-fired central heating and double glazing. Heating is supplemented with a freestanding wood-burning stove within the café area.

There is a demand for evening meals within the area during the summer season, especially within such an elegant setting; this could be an area of development for new owners. The business has previously held a liquor license under the provision of the Licensing Scotland Act 2005 and the current owners believe that a reinstatement of the licence is entirely possible subject to application. With the removal of the perfume manufacturing and photography studio an opportunity exists to utilise this space for a number of purposes either as accommodation or to introduce a new product line such as an artist’s studio, jewellery workshop, etc.

Listing Details
Freehold Price: £525,000
Tenure: Freehold
Sector: Cafes, Gift Shops, Development Sites
Annual Turnover: Available upon request
Annual Net Profit: Available upon request
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