Guild Of Fine Food F

As part of its wide-ranging support for small retailers and producers during the COVID-19 crisis, Guild of Fine Food shares with us the innovative ideas it has gathered from across the UK’s independent food and drink retail community.

From new ways of serving customers to community collaborations, the Guild of Fine Food has compiled a Top 10 of independent retail creativity, to help inspire the sector and shine a spotlight on what small businesses are doing in every corner of the country.

With unprecedented pressure on national delivery services and ongoing product shortages, delis, farm shops, cheesemongers and producers have nimbly adapted their offerings to become part of the solution. Providing a vital lifeline on street corners and country lanes, these businesses are going the extra mile to ensure that shoppers can get the provisions they need, so the Guild of Fine Food is calling on the nation to support its independents during these challenging times.

Top 10 independent retail initiatives:

Reaching out to vulnerable groups – with many at risk individuals struggling to get the food and drink they need, businesses like Gonalston Farm Shop Nottinghamshire are working with volunteers to take orders from the elderly on their doorsteps and return later with their deliveries.

Contactless collection – The Courtyard Dairy in Austwick, North Yorkshire, is offering a click and collect option. Staying in their cars, customers simply call the shop when they arrive, open their car boots and then the team places the order inside and wipes everything down.

Pedal power – as the courier network becomes crowded, some businesses are getting on their bikes. Landrace Bakery in Bath is taking orders via WhatsApp for delivery within 1.25 miles, extending its range to include meat, vegetables and handmade pasta, along with its traditional sourdough bread.

Introducing new products – responding to the headaches created by panic-buying, many specialist retailers have added essential household items to their product offering. The Cheese Hamlet in Didsbury even secured a supply of toilet paper to help its regulars access this essential item.

From wholesale to homes – after 20 years of supplying the restaurants, pubs, hotels and conference centres of Cambridgeshire with fresh produce, Kale & Damson is now offering a home delivery service six days per week.

Special offers for impacted individuals – a raft of retailers and producers have introduced special offers to assist groups disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Devon-based cheesemaker, Quicke’s is offering free delivery on all orders above £25 for NHS staff and anyone in self-isolation.

Switch to e-commerce – with footfall in many shops significantly reduced, some have acted fast to get their food and drink online, including London’s La Fromagerie, whose cheese, accompaniments, wine and larder items are now available on Deliveroo and Uber Eats.

Donating surplus stock – finding themselves with surplus stock as a result of cancelled orders following the government’s guidelines, Rhug Estate Organic Farm in Corwen, Denbighshire has donated this produce to Hope House Children's Hospice in Oswestry.

Collaborations with other independents – opening its doors just weeks before the lockdown, Laura’s Larder of Petts Wood in South East London has partnered with Knock Knock by Smith & Brock to deliver its fruit, vegetable and dairy boxes to the local area.

Care packages – as entertainment options and social interaction are limited, care packages are being used as a way for shoppers to treat themselves and loved ones. George & Joseph cheesemongers in Chapel Allerton, Leeds, is offering a Self-Isolation Survival Kit, including cheese, bread, wine and beer.

While waving the flag for the agile independents that are digging deep to better serve their local communities, the Guild of Fine Food has also created a dedicated COVID-19 online resource, featuring tailored information, advice and tips for the fine food trade. Open to all, the food industry can also sign up to receive the Guild of Fine Food’s new support bulletin via email, which will feature content specifically relevant to independent food retailers, the producers who supply them and the consumers who support them.

John Farrand, managing director of the Guild of Fine Food, commented: “We could all do with some positive news at the moment and the independent food scene is coming up with the goods in more ways than one. It fills me with pride to see how our members and the wider retail market have adapted their businesses overnight, in order to serve their customers more effectively and safely during this period, and I think this says a lot about the people behind the patchwork of diverse independents across the country. These businesses have stepped up when we need them the most and they deserve our support in return. I’d encourage everyone to check out what their local delis, cheesemongers, butchers and bakers are doing and use the hashtag #supportlocal on social media to share their stories.”

The Guild of Fine Food’s COVID-19 support resource is open to all and can be accessed at gff.co.uk/support.

Contributed by John Farrand
Bethany Wright
Article by Bethany Wright
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