Published: April 3, 2020 | Updated: April 3, 2020
Farm business takes on extra staff as demand for home deliveries goes “absolutely crazy”
A farm business which saw its catering arm collapse “like a deck of cards” as a result of the coronavirus crisis is taking on extra staff to deal with a massive increase in home deliveries.
Jurassic Coast Farm Shop says it has done more business through its website – jurassiccoastfarmshop.co.uk – in the last ten days than in the previous two and a half years.
It is currently handling at least 100 orders a day and is taking on an extra butcher, delivery driver and also despatcher to cope with demand.
James Sealey, Director, said: “The website is going absolutely crazy and our phones have been ringing off the hook.
“About 95 per cent of our business was down to the catering and retailing arm but this crashed down like a deck of cards when the government announced the special measures.
“However, we put in place a full e-commerce website about two years ago and thank goodness we did.
“It means we’re now doing more business than before and because customers are paying us when ordering, we’re no longer having to wait between 30 and 60 days to be paid.”
James’ parents – Eric and Liz Sealey – took on the tenancy of Fossil Farm at Winfrith Newburgh 35 years ago.
In 2008 the family established Jurassic Coast Meats to market the English rose veal reared on the farm as well as grass fed, free range beef.
The farm has a herd of 250 Aberdeen Angus cattle.
Two years later they began to supply hotels, pubs and restaurants across Dorset, Wiltshire and Hampshire after sourcing other local high-quality meats.
The business has four full-time butchers – and one part-time – hand preparing meat to individual customer’s specific requirements.
However, it was a decision to launch Jurassic Coast Farm Shop, and its accompanying website, just two years ago which has saved the family business’s bacon in the current crisis.
James, 36, said: “We’re different from other butchers because we also deliver fish, vegetables, fruit, cheese and a whole range of other pantry lines.
“Our four vans cover an area from Lyme Regis in the west through to Bournemouth, Poole and the New Forest in the east and up to Salisbury.
“We also send out boxes via Parcel Force – 20 boxes went out by courier on Friday.
“We’re a real alternative to the supermarket deliveries and because everything is fully computerised, we’re totally geared up to handling the massive number of orders.”
James said about one tonne of fruit and vegetables had been ordered through the website when, previously, it was in the region of just ten kilos.
He added: “This may very well change our business model in the future.
“For two years our online delivery service never seemed to take off and now, boom, it’s suddenly gone crazy.
“I’d like to think that after this crisis is over, people will still use services like ours providing home-grown meat and products as well as local butchers and bakers.
“If that happens then that’s at least one positive thing to come out of this.”