Sterling Foods 4

Source: Sterling Meat Co 

Sterling hailed its ‘winning’ everyday low prices strategy as a key factor of ’more customers migrating’ towards the retailer

Sterling Meat Co is looking to open two new outlets over the next 12 months on the back of strong trading last year.

The business, which emerged out of the ashes of the collapsed Crawshaws butcher shop chain in 2018, reported a 19.8% increase in sales to £14.8m in the year to 31 December.

Operating profit climbed at a faster rate – by 207.3% to £704,777 – according to latest accounts posted at Companies House. Profit after tax rose by 249% to £519,815, Sterling’s accounts showed.

The retailer is now looking to expand its 12-store estate, having built up a strong customer base with its ability to offer meat up to 40% cheaper than in the mults “without compromising on quality”.

Sterling hailed that “winning” everyday low prices strategy as a key factor of “more customers migrating” towards the retailer, fuelling long-term stability.

The business is now projecting sales of £23m and a seven-figure pre-tax profit for the current financial year.

The chain was established by entrepreneur and butcher Tom Cribbin, who bought 19 Crawshaws stores out of administration in 2018 and re-employed ex-Asda meat buyer Jim Viggars – who had briefly served as Crawshaws CEO before its collapse – as its MD.

It went on to reduce its store footprint to 10 sites – which underwent extensive revamps – and opened two new sites in Middleton and Doncaster.

Viggars told The Grocer the business now had “the right infrastructure” in place and a “blueprint which is scalable and investable”.

This was backed by a reliable workforce created through a “strong recruitment and internal training programme that makes sure we can spread our experience so we don’t fall over”, Viggars added.

7 for £20 Sterling Meat Co

Source: Sterling Meat Co

MD Jim Viggars said deals such as its seven meat items for £20 mechanic offered enough protein to four people for just 72p per portion

The chain operates under two brands, both of which have six stores each at sites across the north of England and the midlands. High street butcher Meat Mart sells fresh meats, frozen food and ready-to-eat pies and sandwiches, while Sterling Foods to Go offers hot and cold food, including fresh meat.

Key deals available to shoppers included a cooked chicken for £4.99 or two for £8, ideal “for a lot of families that can’t even afford to put their ovens on during a time of huge inflation”, Viggars said.

The retailer also offered seven meat items for £20, using the strapline “plenty for twenty, meat for the week”, which worked out at £2.86 per pack “giving enough protein to four people for just 72p per portion.

The offer had “kickstarted our sales in the high street this year, and helped contribute to a continuation of last year’s strong performance, with year on year Sterling Meat Co value sales up 61% year to date, customer numbers up 50% and customer spend up 7%, Viggars pointed out.

While the chain offered meat and food at vastly reduced process compared to mainstream supermarkets, Viggars said he preferred to describe Sterling Meat Co as a food to go and fresh meat retailer, rather than a discounter, and one which boasted specifications and standards on a par with the mults and was staffed by expert butchers – many of whom had worked in the meat sector for decades.

Meat was also sourced from many of the suppliers used by the mults, including major processors such as ABP, Dawn Meats, Danish Crown and Linden Foods, in addition to seasonal supply from Europe and New Zealand, he added.