BUTCHERY chain Crawshaw Group has announced ambitious plans to open up to 200 stores over the next eight years, transforming it from a small regional player to a nationwide chain.
The Rotherham-based firm, which was Yorkshire’s best performing stock last year, has enjoyed phenomenal growth recently as it taps into consumer demand for quality meat at low prices.
Crawshaw’s finance director Lynda Sherratt said the group will initially open 10 new stores a year and this will escalate to 20 or 30 a year. It currently has 21 stores.
The expansion will be made possible by the opening of a new factory and distribution centre in Rotherham.
“The new distribution centre will support 60 shops at the very least,” said Ms Sherratt.
“If we go out in concentric circles to an hour’s distance from Rotherham we can reach the East Midlands, North Yorkshire and Manchester.”
The plan is to expand further across the country and reach the south.
“Eventually we will, of course, go south. We’ll identify a new distribution centre,” said Ms Sherratt.
Asked whether Crawshaw will appeal to southern tastes, she said: “I don’t think the reception will be any different to what it is here. We sell quality food at value prices.”
Crawshaw has been working on a new cost-effective model for its new shops and is opting for single-storey sites.
“We have got a model that is much less expensive,” said Ms Sherratt.
Crawshaw announced the plans at its AGM yesterday after reporting strong trading with year to date like-for-like sales up 13.4 per cent.
Chairman Richard Rose told shareholders: “We are delighted with this performance given like-for-like sales were up eight per cent through May and June last year.”
The group is planning to recruit a chief executive officer to spearhead the growth.
Analyst John Cummins, at WH Ireland, said: “We view this announcement very positively given the success achieved in the last 18 months across the existing store base.
“It’s all about attention to detail in stores.
“They’ve got it right. There is definitely a trend towards local butchers.”