Posted: 14/04/2020

Blacker Hall Farm Shop adds drive-thru to multi-channel service

Blacker Hall drive thru

West Yorkshire’s Blacker Hall Farm Shop has managed to offset the closure of its café with a multi-retail approach that now includes a drive-thru service as well as home delivery and click & collect.

The shop, located on the outskirts of Wakefield, is serving in excess of 200 customers every day via these methods as well as keeping the main store open – and it has not furloughed a single member of its 35-strong foodservice team.

“That combination of those three things is nearly 50% of our income now,” co-owner Edward Garthwaite, told FFD.

The newest initiative, a drive-thru farm shop has been running for just under a fortnight and has already seen early success.

Customers park up and can order from a set menu of ready-prepared boxes – meat, fish, vegetables, fruit and salad – as well as bread, milk and eggs.

Garthwaite said that if a customer orders a meat or fish box as well as the other items, the transaction would equate to around £70, with the whole shopping experience completed in a matter of minutes.

“We’ve got all the social distancing measures, the markings on the floor, limiting numbers to give customers a bit of confidence to come in to the shop but it has been very slow,” said Garthwaite, adding that he has seen many of Blacker Hall’s regular customers – especially those with younger families – using the drive-thru instead.

You will be able to read more from Edward Garthwaite in the forthcoming May print edition of Fine Food Digest

He said that the Click & Collect service, launched soon after lockdown was announced by the government, had proved so popular initially that he had to suspend it.

However, the shop is now turning out around 140 C&C orders a day (charged at £3.50 each) by adapting a packing line they would only usually use for Christmas orders.

Many of these customers are new and have been driven to look for different options with supermarket delivery slots now being booked up months in advance.

Meanwhile, Blacker Hall is also delivering to up to 40 or its more vulnerable customers every day.

“People need food don’t they?” said Garthwaite. “And they are eating three whole meals a day now at home.”

“The café and the gift shop are closed but the butchery, bakery and greengrocery is more than making up for it.”

“If you’d told me that at the start of this, I would’ve said ‘No way, is that possible’”

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