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Family butcher shares recipe for success after business opens second outlet

PUBLISHED: 08:57 16 October 2018 | UPDATED: 09:03 16 October 2018

Dot Ridgway (left) with son David and grandson George at Swiss Farm Butchers in Ashbocking

Dot Ridgway (left) with son David and grandson George at Swiss Farm Butchers in Ashbocking

Archant

The head of a family-owned Suffolk butchers, which has bucked the trend of independent butchers closing by opening a new outlet in Essex earlier this year, has shared the recipe of the business’ success.

(From left to right) Dot Rideway, her late husband John and son David, shortly after the opening of the Swiss Farm Butchers farmshop in Ashbocking in 1972(From left to right) Dot Rideway, her late husband John and son David, shortly after the opening of the Swiss Farm Butchers farmshop in Ashbocking in 1972

David Ridgway is chairman of Swiss Farm Butchers, which has run a farm shop at Ashbocking near Ipswich for over 40 years since his mother, Dot, opened its doors in 1972. In March, the company launched a second outlet at Great Bromley near Colchester.

While the growth of out-of-town supermarkets has pushed some traditional butchers out of business over the past two decades, Mr Ridgway says Swiss Farm has “found its niche by focusing on providing customers with the highest quality products at affordable prices”.

He added: “Everything is prepared on site by our master butchers, from dry curing our bacon and smoking it in our smokehouse, to making all our own sausages and burgers,”

Other factors that have helped the business thrive include supporting local farmers and placing the business in the right location with adequate car parking.

“Our outlets are massive with 40ft-long counters and lots of meat on display - you have to get the business to a certain level to have the buying power to compete [with supermarkets],” continued Mr Ridgway.

“People typically spend £30 per visit with us, which is a lot of meat, so having a large car park next to the premises so people don’t have walk too far with their shopping is also important.”

A lot has changed since Dot sold only two pork chops on her first day, with the business last year turning over £2m.

Dot said: “When we first opened, the range of meat and flavours was very limited - butchers typically sold only traditional cuts of meat. Today, demand is completely different and some of our most popular items include our marinated chicken fillets with 21 flavours from around the world, and our dry cured bacon which still uses the original 1972 recipe.”

And the trend for more choice looks set to continue with David’s son, George, having recently joined the business as head of marketing and recipe development.

“I’m glad he’s come on board but I would never have forced him into it,” said Mr Ridgway senior. “You have to have passion for your business or it won’t succeed.”

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