Cotswold Fayre begins roll-out of chilled distribution service
Cotswold Fayre has launched its long-awaited chilled food distribution service to customers in a limited geographical area ahead of a national roll-out in the New Year.
The company first announced it would be moving into chilled distribution in February 2014, but the project was delayed by the installation of a new IT system last year.
The distributor’s initial phase went live last week and covers Reading and parts of Sussex.
It has launched with a limited range of around 100 products from 15 suppliers but this is likely to expand as the scheme goes nationwide.
It currently includes several ranges of pies, chilled puddings, yoghurts, dips and salsas, smoked salmon, chilled charcuterie and mozzarella from Laverstoke Park, although founder and chief executive Paul Hargreaves ruled out the range including other cheeses. “There are enough people already doing that,” he told Fine Food Digest.
The company is currently discussing whether to make the order of chilled distribution an online only service once the scheme goes national, arguing that this would provide greater flexibility for adding seasonal products, such as fresh haggis for Burns Night, and speed up delivery times.
“It makes adding products easier as you don’t need it to go into a printed catalogue,” Hargreaves said. “With a chilled range you need to be able to respond quicker than if you brought out a catalogue every three of four months. It also means online orders would go straight to the warehouse for picking without the customer service team being involved.”
Hargreaves added that the chilled side of the business has been well-received and is confident that it is set to grow.
“Generally, most reasonably sized customers in the area we’ve showed it to are ordering chilled products and a few are giving us direction on products we should stock, which is how Cotswold Fayre grew in the first place – around 60-70% of the products in our ambient catalogue are from customer recommendations.”
The launch of the chilled range follows the restructuring of the company’s management team in January which saw the appointment of Ian Roberts as a new joint-managing director and finance director, allowing Hargreaves to concentrate on marketing and sales.
“I feel we’ve got a much more solid base for growth than we’d ever had before” Hargreaves said. The company is aiming to double in size by 2016.