Case Studies . The Well Hung Meat Company Ltd
The Well Hung Meat Company Ltd
From field to fork: proper organic meat in Devon
The Well Hung Meat Company aims at providing the best quality, highest-welfare, organic meat direct to consumers across the UK. Customers can choose to buy individual items or to sign up for a regular meat box, which offers better value and the convenience of meat delivered to their door.
We were first introduced to GrowthAccelerator run by Oxford Innovation Services in the South of England in 2014 and joined the service via the Growth Impact Pilot, running at the time. This increased our training budget significantly, giving us access to up to £2,000 match-funded Leadership and Management training for all the senior managers in our businesses.
Started by Geoff Sayers, a Devon-based organic farmer in 1998, the business primarily sold lamb. Although sales were good, Geoff had become increasingly frustrated at seeing his lovingly reared lambs appearing on supermarket shelves without being properly hung and butchered in a traditional way.
In 2001 and 2002, The Well Hung Meat Company won the Soil Association Organic Food Awards for its lamb in the blind tasting. Geoff then saw a potential gap in the market for properly butchered and hung meat. In response, he diversified his farming strategy to include a direct to consumer service – from field to fork.
The business grew and, in March 2014, I was brought in as Managing Director. We have diversified into other meats – bacon, mutton, sausages, venison - and numbers and customers grew, with demand soon outstripping supply. We took the decision to partner with other local farmers that embraced our organic values.
We knew we wanted to expand our direct to consumer business through meat boxes but we also wanted to invest in our wholesale offer. Geoff has always had a strong vision for the business but we realised we needed more support and structure to ensure the strategy was fit and flexible enough to achieve our projection for growth. The strategy was in place but operationally we needed to complement our existing resource to be sure we had the capacity, skills and expertise to continue our excellent customer service whilst operating at a bigger level.
The support we received enabled us to step back from operations and understand more about the profitability in the business. From there we were able to develop a strategic sales plan which will drive the volume of boxed meat sets being sold. Our training provider, Richard Harrison brought a third party perspective, guiding us through our ideas to find the right strategies for growth. Every person in the senior management team has spent time with Richard to establish their roles and responsibilities which set us on the right course for growth.
Although it’s still too early to know the full impact of the support we had, things are heading firmly in the right direction and operationally and strategically it has been invaluable. Our challenge is to continue on our road for growth but ensure that the passion for artisan meat still runs in our core.