Boutique food shops
As supermarkets flounder, small food and drink retailers are booming
INVESTORS in Tesco, Britain's largest supermarket chain, could be forgiven for weeping into their Christmas pud this month. On December 9th the retailer issued its fourth profit warning in five months, cutting its full-year trading forecast by almost a third. Shares plunged (again), topping off a dreadful year for the former darling of the City. Tesco's only solace is that it is only doing marginally worse now than its direct competitors, such as Sainsbury's and Morrison's.
There is no need for solace at the Keelham Farm Shop, on the outskirts of Bradford, however. Here it is mulled wine and treats all round, as Victoria Robertshaw, the co-owner, celebrates another fine year and big plans for the future. Founded in the early 1970s, Keelham was one of the country's first modern farm shops, selling meat, vegetables and much else, but only from the family farm or from other local producers. Its growth has been spectacular.
In 2006, Keelham had a turnover of ￡2m, already large for a farm shop. Today that figure is over ￡11m, and achieved in one of the less prosperous parts of the country. Such is the demand that Ms Robertshaw is investing ￡4m next year in opening a much larger Keelham's in Skipton, a nearby town. Her new outlet will also boast a cooking school and a café. Much of what it will sell, such as sausages, will be made on site.
The expansion of Keelham's reflects the robust health of the country's boutique food-and-drink business. There are about 4,000 such businesses today, and more are opening all the time. The National Farmers' Retail and Markets Association, which represents about 300 farm shops, says that many members have reported a 5-10% increase in turnover this year.
Some analysts expected the burgeoning sector of small food-and-drink companies to be decimated by the financial crash of 2008. Surely tasty treats from the local deli would be the first casualties as household budgets were slashed. In fact, the reverse has happened. The sector has not only survived, but prospered, partly due to the change in shopping habits provoked by that same recession.
After 2008 many consumers started shopping at cheaper supermarkets, such as Aldi and Lidl. Customers also started buying in bulk online. However, in contrast to previous downturns, says Hugh Padfield, a director of the Bath Soft Cheese Company, this time people continue to buy basic products at the cheapest price, and spend the money they save on products that are better quality, like his own renowned Bath Blue cheese.
This sort of “promiscuous shopping”, as the analysts call it, is replacing the traditional once-a-week trip to an out-of-town Tesco or Sainsbury's. Those retailers are therefore being squeezed by Aldi and Lidl undercutting them and the farm shops taking business away at the top end, albeit still on a modest scale. Small producers like Mr. Padfield are doing very nicely; he has tripled his turnover in just five years, to ￡750,000, and will struggle to meet all his orders for Christmas. Ms Robertshaw says her prices are not more expensive than those of the supermarkets, putting her produce within range of most shoppers.
Another essential ingredient in the success of the small producers is the increasing demand for locally sourced food. After various scandals in Britain's food production, from “mad-cow disease” to the discovery of horse meat in some products, consumers are much more concerned to know where their food comes from, and how it was produced.
Farm shops and delis thus stress the local content of their food in a way that supermarkets, with their central distributions systems, usually cannot. “Provenance is really important now,” says Asad Khan, who has recently set up a luxury ice-cream business in London, called Snowflake. The fact that his gelati are all made of the best quality British milk and are prepared in the store is a large part of Snowflake's appeal. Mr. Khan has seen his turnover more than double in two years of business. He even sells pricey tubs of ice-cream that customers would previously have bought only from a supermarket.
鉴于此，农家店和熟食店特别注重食物的本地性，而超市在城市中心分配系统下通常难以做到这一点。阿萨德?卡恩说：“原产地现在真的很重要。”他最近在伦敦开了一家豪华冰激凌店，名字叫雪花。雪花的魅力在于：意大利胶凝冰糕都是用英国的上乘牛奶制作，而且是店内现做。卡恩先生开店两年，营业额已经翻了两倍多。他甚至还卖高价格的桶装冰激凌，在这之前，顾客只能在超市买得到。译者：石海霞 校对：朱大素 （译文属译生译世）
ADJ If you say that something is dreadful, you mean that it is very bad or unpleasant, or very poor in quality. 糟糕透顶的
They told us the dreadful news.
2、boutique adj. 精品屋的；小规模专售精品的
N-VAR The turnover of a company is the value of the goods or services sold during a particular period of time. 营业额
The company had a turnover of $3.8 million.
4、promiscuous adj. 混杂的；杂乱的
同义词：miscellaneous / jumbly