BASHFORD & Co: Meet the young London butcher thriving through COVID-19

Photo by: Ella Webster

For most local businesses, the last eight months have been survival of the fittest and businesses have had to go the extra mile in order to have a fighting chance of survival.

We spoke to a young butcher in South London, who’s not only surviving, but thriving throughout the pandemic.

March 2020 saw the first national lockdown take place in England. Due to this drastic measure, thousands of local businesses struggled to survive the increasingly harsh economy.

In some instances, businesses managed to just keep their heads above water, but many did not.

As we now see ourselves in the middle of a second lockdown, it begs the question as to whether businesses will manage to survive a second time round or will this be the beginning of the end.

Bashford & Co in South London has been an established butchers since 2012, with the location of the shop itself being a butchers for over 50 years.

The focus of the business revolves around providing quality, locally sourced produce to the community, demonstrating the epitome of traditional British business.

Bashford & Co, South London | Photo by: Ella Webster

When speaking to the owner, Norton Bashford about his journey throughout lockdown, here’s what he had to say:

How were you impacted by the first lockdown back in March?

There was a reduction in trade at the beginning whilst everyone sourced out of supermarkets.

We lost a number of our regular customers on whom we depend on to a degree to maintain business.

When the supermarkets started running low due to panic buying, people then started to use local independent services such as butchers, bakeries and green grocers, from which we profited from.

From the business side, we had issues sourcing meat.

We were sourcing locally, but due to rising rates in the local area we had to start sourcing meat from the Isle of Man where infection rates were lower, and we didn’t want to compromise the quality of meat.

What measures did you put into place to maintain business during the first lockdown?

We noticed that we were getting business when people were coming out for their hourly allowance of exercise, but the elderly weren’t coming out to shop and a large proportion of the local population is elderly therefore a decent proportion of our clientele are elderly.

We created a side business called MeatPac which allowed us to deliver to customers that weren’t coming out to shop.

We had the mentality that if customers couldn’t come to our doorstep, we would go to theirs.

The delivery business did extremely well during lockdown and had over 50 deliveries each day, which was beneficial to not only us, but the local community.

Beautiful displays | Photo by: Ella Webster

Has your business recovered from the first lockdown?

Our business didn’t take a massive hit, if anything it excelled. We profited when supermarkets ran out of food, so people turned to us.

Also, people had more time on their hands during lockdown which meant that had more opportunities to try different recipes and use our quality produce to do so.

 How prepared were you for a second lockdown?

We were prepared. Of course nobody wanted a second lockdown, but we were prepared either way.

We already had our health and safety measures in place which we’re confident in, as well as our side company MeatPac to continue to deliver to those that are staying indoors.

Stocking up for lockdown 2.0 | Photo by: Ella Webster

Now that we’re in a second lockdown, have you seen a reduction in trade?

During the first week of this lockdown, we did see a reduction in trade, although I think this was more down to people being confused as to the restrictions of this lockdown.

 What does Christmas look like for your business this year?

Christmas is usually an extremely busy time of year for us and I don’t think this year will be too much different.

We have already started taking Christmas orders and had over 75 orders in the first week which is about the same as previous years.

Customers are confused about whether there will be Christmas restrictions or not.

In the instance that there will people less people around the dinner table, some customers are ordering less including smaller turkeys.

On the other hand, a proportion of the customers are order larger amounts with the intention that they’re not going to listen to restrictions anyway.

It looks like the only way is up for this young business owner. Let’s hope other local businesses will be able to do the same, and survive this undoubtedly troubling time.

Words by: Ella Webster | Subbing: Grace Staley

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