Darlington butchers use funding to go digital and drive regional sales

Country Valley Foods, which has established itself over 40 years, is refocusing its business through a new e-commerce function

Doug Moody Photography Brothers James (right) and Edward (left) Munro are pictured with Jonathan Barnes from the North East Business Support Fund
Brothers James (right) and Edward (left) Munro are pictured with Jonathan Barnes from the North East Business Support Fund

A family butchery and wholesale food firm says a new online presence is helping to open up new markets and drive sales on its doorstep.

Darlington-based Country Valley Foods, which has been supplying meat to the catering industry for more than 40 years, has launched a new website which has seen its customer base become UK-wide.

Using funding from the North East Business Support Fund (NEBSF), administered by NBSL, the firm launched the site and invest in marketing activity.

Joint managing director, James Munro, whose father Stewart founded the company in 1971, said that the website had added a new dimension to the company’s offer, opening up new national markets.

However, he believes that growing the business’ customer base in the North East is the real priority.

Country Valley operates a network of refrigerated vehicles, delivering to its catering and retail customers up to 6 days a week, so local website deliveries fit in to the operation perfectly.

James said: “We’ve grown significantly over the years, and this is down to the strong reputation we have established with restaurants, hotels, retail butchers and caterers right across the region. We’re extremely proud of that, and we now want to make sure that everyone – not just catering & retail customers – can get access to locally sourced, restaurant-quality meat – particularly here in the North East.

“Our e-commerce website has been hugely beneficial, making it really easy for consumers to place their orders online.”

Country Valley Foods has two facilities in the region, with its head office, cutting plant and website operation in Darlington, where restaurants, hotels and food producers are served with fresh, locally sourced meat and poultry.

The company’s other site in Billingham is where James’s brother and joint managing director, Edward is based.

From Billingham, the company serves retail butchers, education and healthcare providers, and other caterers with dry, chilled, frozen, and tinned goods.

The Country Valley Foods Group also acquired retail butcher, Newboulds in 2007. Newboulds was established in 1856 and has seven branches around the Tees Valley, and a home delivery website.

The North East Business Support Fund (NEBSF), administered by NBSL provides funding of up to 40 per cent on a project worth as much as £3,500.

Jonathan Barnes, North East business support adviser, said: “Country Valley Foods is an established business, with a very traditional offer, but one that is truly embracing e-commerce and social media to drive its sales and find new ways to reach its customers.

“It’s fantastic that the website has opened up so many different avenues for the business, but also refreshing to hear that they’re using that to create a compelling offer for locally based customers.

“We’re delighted to have been able to help them with funding from the NEBSF.”

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