We’re pleased to share the next edition of this year’s Speciality Spotlight series, highlighting some of our trade customers from across the country.
In our latest journal for 2022, we spoke to Jon, Managing Director of Ludlow Farm Shop. Located in the heart of Shropshire on the Earl of Plymouth’s Oakly Park Estate, the farm and shop prides itself on supporting local talented food producers offering real, seasonal food with minimal food miles. Ludlow Farm Shop was one of our very first customers, so it was a brilliant opportunity to catch up with the team and see the business continue to go from strength to strength.
Tell us a bit about Ludlow Farmshop and your involvement with the business.
The Farmshop was opened in 2007 with a driving principle to provide our customers the very best from Shropshire and the surrounding areas. In contrast to many farm shops, we wanted to produce as much as possible ourselves, especially when so much is available from our farm. The shop has seven units around the perimeter of the salesfloor which are visible to our customers to watch the products being made. In these departments we make chutneys, marmalades and jams, butter, yogurt, ice cream and 11 different cheeses, biscuits, cakes, and everything you can think of for a deli counter, we also roast all our own coffee. Finally, our butchery delivers the meat requirements for the whole site which includes a restaurant and hotel producing everything from sausages to air dried hams.
I am the Managing Director and have been here for almost 7 years. During this time, I have overseen the rebranding of the business, development of our retail and hospitality operation and the modernisation of our production processes, all aimed at making our products and customer experience the very best.
What does a typical day involve at the farm and Farm Shop?
One of the best things about working in the farm shop is that there is no typical day as the operation is so wide. This said there are many things that do take place on a daily and weekly basis, let’s take today, which is a Tuesday. A significant amount of activity takes place very early here getting set for the day, our production kitchen team are generally the first on site at 4.30am, these early risers will be making everything from sausage rolls and pork pies to pate and sandwiches ready for the day’s trade. Shortly after the bakers arrive and start work on the products that will be sold in our shop, café and hotel.
Between 6am and 7am the rest of the producers will arrive, the team who make our jams and chutneys, the coffee roasters and the butchers. Tuesday is when we get the delivery of pigs from the farm so today is a very busy day as we will have 20 or so that will be butchered ending up as everything from sausages to air dried hams. Our dairy team are also now in and will go to pick up the milk they need to make the cheese from our farm, once back they will pasteurise it before making a batch of Remembered Hills blue cheese. From 7.30am onwards the retail team start arriving to get ready for opening the shop, ensuring displays are well stocked with much of the products that the various production teams have been working on, and that all our service points are manned for the 9am opening.
At 9am we open the shop, takeaway and ice cream cabin and begin trading. Behind the scenes we have the buyers who are checking stocks and placing orders, the compliance team ensuring all our legal checks are complete and the marketing team busy managing all the various channels of customer communication.
We will trade the full day until 5pm when we close down the operation, however one of the last tasks of the day is to ensure all the production areas have the ingredients ready for the morning… so that it can begin once more.
What is most important to you when choosing which products & brands to stock in the shop?
We have five criteria we apply against all products. The first; is it great quality? The second; is it from Shropshire or one of the surrounding counties? This isn’t a deal breaker but is a question asked of every product before we spread the search out further. The third; can we/should we produce this ourselves? The fourth; is it sold in the major multiples, if so, ideally, we won’t stock it. The fifth; Does it have a real reason to be on the shelf, is it innovative, does it fill a gap in the offer, is it seasonal?
At Peter’s Yard, our ethos is all about taking time for the simple pleasures in life – tell us, what are your favourite pastimes?
I took up mountain biking 14 years ago and still go as often as I can, at least weekly and often 3 times a week. I go with friends outside of this industry with vastly different jobs, so the mix of the great outdoors, exercise, good company and the chance to switch off for a few hours is very important. I can’t think of anything better than a sharp Autumn ride, deep in the woods, or at the top of a mountain, the sights sounds and smell are bliss.
We would love to know what is your favourite cheese/topping with Peter’s Yard crackers?
It would have to be Peter’s Yard Original Sourdough Crackers with our own Cheese With no Name, this is a brie style cheese that is made with full cream so has a really rich flavour. Throw in some of our fig relish and it becomes a real treat!
Finally, what’s next for Ludlow Farmshop in 2022?
We have been working hard trying to understand what our customers want from us. We recently opened our first full scale takeaway which was done based on customer feedback and this is working extremely well.
The three main areas we are working on based on lots of customer research are;
- How we can offer value for money; this will be done via strategic promotions, primarily those designed to increase spend whilst saving the customer money.
- To become more of a destination; we are looking at developing the site to include more fixed activities, more trading partners who offer things we don’t.
- More reasons to visit; eventing is something we have not had the chance to do much over the last few years so are going for it this year – summer fun day, Santa visiting, murder mystery events, supplier visits, steak nights etc, between August and December we have 32 events planned in.
To find out more, visit Ludlow Farmshop here.
Sourdough crackers and crispbreads
Our hand-baked sourdough crackers and crispbreads are the perfect accompaniment to the ultimate British cheeseboard.