Sustainable meat retailer Farmison sees sales double in lockdown

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Farmison & Co, the sustainable online meat company that connects farms directly to customers, has announced strong growth for the nine months to 31 December 2020, declaring an annual net profit for the first time in its short history.

The audited Companies House filing, resetting Farmison’s accounting period to match the calendar year, comes a week after announcing the appointment of KPMG to explore strategic options for the high-growth business.

The business achieved phenomenal growth, more than doubling sales in the past year, regularly achieving over £1m sales each month.

But this hasn’t been a one-off boost – It builds on Farmison’s growth story with 40 per cent of new customers placing a second order and research that’s showed only 1.25 per cent of customers said they would cease using Farmison once the lockdown ended.

And with highly favourable market fundamentals such the growth of online, the increased commitment to eating better and a customer committed to sustainability, Farmison now has ambitions to disrupt the meat industry, as it becomes a £100m brand in a category where consumer choice has largely been limited to an unbranded offer.

And to mark National Butchers’ Week, it took another step in that journey, launching a brand-new website with more content, clearer navigation and the ability for customers to select delivery dates upfront and checkout in just two clicks.

Performance highlights in 2020 include:

  • Rocketing e-commerce sales from £3.4m to £10m in FY20, as overall revenue doubled from £5.4m to £12.1m as Covid-19 brought new interest in how food is produced, accelerating the trend of customers choosing the convenience of online.
  • A three-fold increase in new customers (16,000 to 49,000), giving Farmison an active year-end direct customer base of over 100,000.
  • A three-fold increase in the number of customers shopping more than once.
  • Gross profit increasing from 40.3 per cent to 53.1 per cent as the business joined a select group of British pure play retailers to become profitable (11.7% net for the nine months to 31 December 2020).
  • The implementation of seven-day and next delivery options to provide Amazon-style convenience for customers.
  • £1m of capital expenditure in cold-storage capacity and over £150,000 of investment in logistics and equipment to ensure supply lines stayed open during the pandemic.
  • Tripled the size of the workforce at its Ripon base in the heart of Yorkshire to over 100.
  • Safeguarded the livelihoods of 30 smallholdings and farms throughout the pandemic and guaranteed a price to farmers enabling them to plan for the future and grow their herds
  • Gave a 25 per cent discount to over 1,000 NHS staff
  • Delivered 100’s of local deliveries to vulnerable people

Over the course of the year, Farmison’s executive development and Michelin star chef Jeff Baker met demand through 120 new lines fit for the tabletop and for the third time, Farmison & Co, was named Online Butchery Business of the Year at the 2020 National Butcher’s Shop of the Year awards.

Other range highlights include stocking three breeds of venison (fallow, red and silka) from the National Trust’s Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal Deer Park, the introduction of Manx Loaghtan and Herdwick lamb and, through proactive communications, encouraging customers to eat ‘nose to tail’.

During 2020 Farmison & Co also continued to serve and win new customers through wholesale customers such as Harrods, The Ivy, The National Trust and The Tate Group.

Reviewing the year, John Pallagi, Farmison & Co CEO and founder, said: “Last year’s obstacles caused us to slow down, hibernate and appreciate our families more than ever. Many of us have used that that gift of time, to cook at home and seek food that tastes great and is better for our environment.

“I’d like to thank new and old customers alike for their support in 2020 – every one of them is helping sustain responsible farming that’s in balance with the beautiful landscapes of our farmers across Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cumbria.”

“And not only are UK customers re-discovering our unique heritage breeds and their glorious taste, I believe the reputation of sustainably reared British meat across the world has never been higher.

“So that’s why, as we look for new trading arrangements with the world, we should be putting our best farmers at the heart of new trade deals. 

“The quality of our meat, our sustainable husbandry, our heritage breeds are legendary across the world – I look forward to helping our policy-makers understand that better.”

Farmison has been independently audited by Armstrong Watson. Simon Turner, partner at Armstrong Watson said: “It is a pleasure working with an innovative and evolving business like Farmison and we are proud to be supporting them as they continue to invest in the building blocks of their business alongside top line expansion and growth.”

Farmison & Co has ambitious plans for continued growth in 2021 and beyond. It intends to build on its best-ever year accessing new investment to support rapid growth, marketing, international expansion and new operational innovation.