How these Wigan butchers are surviving the high street decline
England and Sons has been a feature of Ormskirk Road, Pemberton, for more than 30 years, and bosses credit social media, special cuts of meat and customer loyalty for continuing the boom times.
And this while latest Office for National Statistics figures show that the number of meat marts in the borough are in decline, falling from 30 to 25 in the last eight years.
This decline is worse than average for England, where the number of butcher’s shops has reduced by nine per cent in that period and industry experts blame an increase in supermarket meat purchases.
Chris Mallon, chief executive of the National Beef Association, said very aggressive tactics from big chains are forcing many small businesses to close for good.
He said: “The steady decline of butcher’s shops in the last 30 years has been a result of the dominance of large retailers in the food sector, driving market prices down. For small butcher’s shops, it is near impossible to compete with supermarket deals such as ‘buy one, get one free’ and ‘special offers’”.
Mr Mallon dismissed claims that the decline in butcher’s shops was due to the rise of veganism.
Only weeks ago plans were submitted for long-running Standish family butcher Chadwick’s to pull down its premises and turn the site into a retirement village, with only the possibility of the business’s re-establishing itself elsewhere. At England’s though they are staying put.
Spencer England, the third generation to run the business, said: “We source all our meat from a farm only a mile down the road which is so important for any traditional butchers to compete with the likes of supermarkets.
“You can’t always walk into shops and get a really nice crown roast, so we offer these types of special meats at quality prices too.”
The firm is also recognising that it needs to adapt at a time where young people are increasingly becoming more diet-conscious.
One of the younger England butchers, 30-year-old Nicole Taylor-Price, said: “I started here when I was in school, and we are quite lucky in that we have a loyal bunch of customers who know us by name, and we know them.
“Now it is about having a big push on social media too to get new faces coming in, which is why we have joined up to Facebook and Instagram.
“One thing we find appeals to our younger customers is the ‘skinny’ meats that we have, which are our low fat option and are available in the likes of sausages and mince.”
Convenient ready-made meals without sacrificing the freshness of the ingredients is another effort Englands are focusing on to appeal to people with busy lifestyles who don’t have time to cook from scratch.