Posted: 03/06/2020

New openings and re-openings are signs of further independent food revival

Chorlton Cheesemongers
Chris Hallam (pictured right with colleague Dan Willis) outside the recently opened Chorlton Cheesemongers in Manchester

Independent food shops have endured mixed fortunes during the coronavirus lockdown but there are signs of hope for those who have seen trade drop, as new shops emerge and more retailers begin to re-open to the public.

While some retailers – particularly farm shops – have been trading well throughout the pandemic, others have struggled with footfall and being able to accommodate customers on their shop floors.

But several new openings in the last couple of months show that it is possible to start a new venture and many other existing retailers are now starting to open up more of their premises as the government appears to be easing the country out of lockdown.

Chorlton Cheesemongers opened at the end of April in the southern Manchester suburb of the same name and has reported that sales are double that of its forecast.

Set up by Chris Hallam, in a joint venture with Neal’s Yard Dairy and Lancashire cheesemaker Graham Kirkham, the shop has managed to serve customers with social distancing measures in place.

In Devon, Eversfield Organic opened its second farm shop – in the town of Totnes – just as lockdown began but it has still managed to offer customers the retail services, and hopes to open its café and yoga studio soon.

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In Grimston Bar on the eastern edge of York, Field & Fawcett is preparing to open its doors this week (4th June).

Cathryn and Peter Fawcett Field and Fawcett
Cathryn and Peter Fawcett, owners of Field and Fawcett

The wine merchant and deli has been selling items over the phone and online during lockdown but will now welcome customers into a retail area that the owners describe as “more of a food hall”, including a new in-house ready-meal offer.

“We have put in place a one-way system for customers, with time to browse at leisure, with our advice and recommendations still playing a large part in our customer service,” said co-owner Cathryn Fawcett. “We are confident that we have got it right and look forward to welcoming our customers from Thursday.”

Bristol retailer Papadeli has also re-opened this week after selling online via the Good Sixty platform during lockdown. It will now be selling takeaway coffee, cake, cheese and other deli items, and a ‘meals for the freezer’ range that can be ordered in advance for collection.

In an email sent out to customers, the deli said it planned to be open Tuesday-Saturday, as long as eased lockdown conditions stay the same.

While it served customers through even the toughest restrictions – both in store and online – Nottingham’s Delilah Fine Foods has now geared up for receiving more people through its doors.

Delilah Fine Foods Nottingham
Delilah Fine Foods in Nottingham has remodeled its shop floor for social distancing

Owner Sangita Tryner has reorganised the city centre outlet’s layout to make social distancing easier for customers, added PPE, extended opening hours (now Tuesday-Staurday), and also reopened the café’s kitchen to serve a menu of take-away items.

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