Our Local Butcher

Business Name: Our Local Butcher

Support received: Start Up Loan and Start & Grow

Location: Chelmsford, Essex

Website:  http://www.ourlocalbutcher.com/


Our Local Butcher (OLB) is a start-up company, which was launched in late August 2016 by James Thomas. OLB is a re-invention of the traditional butcher’s shop, whereby James offers ready to cook, ready prepared fresh meat, which caters for the busy professionals and medium to high income residents, with and without families, living in and around the Chelmsford area.

With a shop situated at Stockbrook Farm Shop and Nursery, between Chelmsford and Billericay, James’ customers can also order online and have their purchases delivered.

We spoke to James about his new business and his plans for the future.

What was your motivation for starting your own business? 

I am a fully trained butcher and have worked in the industry since leaving school.  During this time, I have witnessed both the decline of the high street butcher, and the fact that customers wanted added value meat, which was quick and convenient to cook, with no waste.  I also identified that out of town shopping and delivery services were becoming popular, which fuelled my motivation for setting up Our Local Butcher.

What is the best thing about being your own boss?

I officially opened in August 2016 with a launch event that saw over 100 visitors come through the door in one day.  My greatest feeling was one of relief that people turned up and spent some money.  After 8 months of planning, preparation and stress, I was so pleased to be finally open.

Over the last few months I have built up a steady customer base.  I have found that ‘word of mouth’ recommendations have been extremely powerful.  Customer feedback has been excellent and extremely encouraging.  It has secured both repeat and new business.

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“Make sure you have plenty of support from family and friends; this has been invaluable in my situation.  Be aware that it is hard work starting up your own enterprise, but don’t wait to do it.  If you have the entrepreneurial spirit – just go for it!”

Have you encountered any challenges?  How did you overcome them?

My greatest challenge has been getting my stock levels at the correct balance.    Overstocking is expensive and wasteful, so I have learned how to make best use of the less popular cuts – making them attractive and desirable.  My chicken thighs are now boned, stuffed and wrapped in bacon for a quick and delicious mid-week mini roast and lamb chops are now dressed, stuffed and sold as noisettes and they fly off the counter!  Giving added value to a plain piece of meat doesn’t cost a huge amount, but today’s customers are always looking for something a little different.

What support have you received from Nwes?

I gained support from Business Advisor, Lou Cessford.  Together, we worked on a business plan.  I was eligible to receive a Start Up Loan to give Our Local Butcher the launchpad it needed. I will also receive ongoing support to help to develop the business through the Start & Grow programme.

Mentoring is useful.  It’s good to know that there is someone waiting in the wings to give an independent and impartial view of the business model.  Having the extra assistance and ongoing support from Nwes under the Start and Grow programme will also be helpful.

What words of advice do you have for others looking to become self-employed?

Make sure you have plenty of support from family and friends; this has been invaluable in my situation.  Be aware that it is hard work starting up your own enterprise, but don’t wait to do it.  If you have the entrepreneurial spirit – just go for it!

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