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Butchery business bounces back – bigger, better and stronger – post Storm Desmond

A butchery business hit hard by 2015’s Storm Desmond is reporting an increase in trade after opening two new premises and offering state of the art meat maturation facilities and an artisan smoke house.

When the floods hit Cumbria last December Lakes Speciality Foods (LSF), who serviced their trade clients from Staveley, lost 20% of their business. The message that Cumbria was closed for business plus infrastructure challenges were to blame says company director Dan Weston. He said it made them realise they needed to be closer to their customers, and there were opportunities to supply premium products and do business outside of the county.

Four months later, Lakes Speciality Foods opened the Ulverston Meat Company to provide quality meat at wholesale prices to the trade and public through a modern factory shop outlet. It supplies the rest of the group with locally-sourced lamb purchased at the town’s auction mart, in some weeks buying as many as 50 lambs. This hub is also home to a new and expanding aspect of the business – Lakeland’s only salt house. Set in the walls of the salt house maturation fridge are over 1,500 Himalayan pink rock salt bricks. Here premium beef, lamb, pork and venison are matured to meet a growing demand from chefs looking to offer something new.

That investment is beginning to pay off says Dan Weston. There are orders from local restaurants and hotels as well as deliveries to Manchester and Liverpool.

At the same time as setting up the Ulverston Meat Company, Lakes Speciality Foods joined forces with two new specialist directors to open the Eden Valley Meat Company. Operating from Plumpton near Penrith, and servicing the north Lakes, this hub procures locally sourced venison and game birds for the company and operates a smokehouse.
As Dan Weston explained:

“The floods revealed some business vulnerabilities which we believe we’ve turned into strengths. People want security of supply as much as they want high quality meat with a strong local provenance. We are now based within the communities we serve, staffed with locals, and providing true accountability. As part of a larger business we can pass on efficiencies of scale to our customers, both trade and the public, whilst assuring them of the meat’s provenance and quality.

“Storm Desmond demonstrated that infrastructure is key. When we couldn’t get deliveries to our customers that had quite an impact on us. We’ve responded by setting up these hubs to service the north and south Lakes and we’ve extended our customer base beyond Cumbria by producing a premium product.

“As a result of that we are bigger, better and stronger. Within the two new businesses eight new jobs have been created the changes are safeguarding the jobs of the group’s other 50 employees.

“2017 looks like being a good year for us as we work hard to secure more clients, attract more people to our Ulverston and Kendal shops and take our products to Keswick, Kendal and Ulverston markets using a fleet of new vans.”

Lakes Speciality Foods was set up in 2004 by four local business men with backgrounds in the meat industry. The firm’s annual turnover is £10million.