One of Mary Portas’s high street pilots has resulted in a new independent butcher’s shop opening in the south-east London area of Forest Hill.
The Butchery Ltd SE23 will open at 49 London Road in mid-February. The premises previously housed a Caribbean restaurant but have stood empty for a number of months.
The Butchery was run as a one-month pop-up shop as part of the SEE3 Portas Pilot for Forest Hill and neighbouring Kirkdale and Sydenham during December. Owner and Forest Hill local Nathan Mills – who already runs a successful wholesale butchery business out of Bermondsey – said at the time he had long wanted to open a retail butchery in his own neighbourhood, and would use the one-month pop-up to gauge interest from locals before committing to a full-term lease.
Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with 2,000 people visiting the pop-up shop during its launch weekend and 4,000 customers being served over the entire one-month period. The bestseller were The Butchery’s sausages, with a “special all-meat, additive-free” variety selling out, while so-called ovenbusters – “secret expanding short ribs” – were among the surprise hits.
Overall, orders were double the estimated figure, Mills said – The Butchery received 200 Christmas orders for 50 turkeys, 25 geese, 20 cockerels, 15 ducks as well as numerous orders for hams, gammons, chipolatas, ribs of beef and pigs in blankets.
“It was last-minute stressful but very gratifying to be so well received and embraced by the local community overall,” Mills added. “It met our hopes and exceeded our expectations.”
The SEE3 Portas Pilot was one of three pilot schemes to be awarded £100,000 from London Mayor Boris Johnson; the local council, Lewisham, is providing an additional £137,000 to rejuvenate the high streets in Forest Hill, Kirkdale and Sydenham.
The Butchery is the first of SEE3’s pop-ups to turn into a permanent high street store. Project manager Louise Brooks said the pop-up model allowed businesses to try out their ideas on the local market and would help bring “a more diverse offering to the high street, which we think will meet the needs of the local community”.