Traditional family butchers and fine food specialist M Newitt & Sons is now run by Michael’s sons Tom (l) and James (r). They have transformed it from a high street business in an Oxfordshire town into a brand with concessions in 43 Budgens stores, says James. The business in Thame was started by my father, Michael, in 1965. But things began to take off when my brother, Tom, returned 17 years ago to take the business forward. In 2002 it was named Britain’s Best Butcher. I came back in 2003 after many years working for Anglo Beef Processors - I was general manager of its Northampton abattoir and head of the food service division. Knowledge of Budgens I had gained at ABP proved valuable straight away, when they asked if Newitts was interested in helping improve their deli offer. We said ‘yes’, of course, and launched the Newitts brand four years ago at Chalfont St Peter, Bucks. It immediately trebled our sales. We saw the opportunities for supplying more homemade, hand-prepared products such as hand-cured hams and meat pies. We have 43 Newitts deli concessions within Budgens stores in the south of England, with an opportunity for a further 20. The transition took three years, during which we won a Grocer Gold Award with Musgrave for best business retailer supply initiative and Britain’s best family business, awarded by Coutts bank in the £1m-£5m category. We have just opened our first fresh meat concession, a full butchers shop in the food hall of the new Wyevale Garden Centre at Bicester - the biggest garden centre in Europe. We hope it will lead to more similar opportunities to grow our fresh meat business. The success of our Budgens concessions is in having the right people serving. If staff don’t believe in the product and aren’t merchandising correctly, it won’t work. You need good quality people on the deli counter who are passionate about food, but a lot of stores overlook this. We have put more than 670 deli staff through the Newitts Academy at Thame, and we bring our deli staff serving in Budgens stores to Thame for a brand appreciation day. All products are made at Thame where we have our own bakery and employ 48 people making 60 products. There is a great opportunity for our products to be available as premium food-on-the-go, and we will be selling our pies on hot-food counters in Budgens. We have even turned down opportunities to supply Budgens with own-label product. We don’t necessarily want to be the biggest, but we do want to be the best.