Tiffany’s was the unlikely inspiration behind Cut, Farmison’s first bricks & mortar store. The result is a luxury – yet accessible – shopping experience that combines online and offline
Polished wood floors, marble display trays and glass cabinets tend to be reserved for jewellers and high-end fashion boutiques. But Farmison & Co founder and CEO John Pallagi fantasised about bringing a bit of luxury to the butcher’s shop.
“I wanted to create a Tiffany’s moment,” he says. “Something that celebrated meat in the way you might want to walk in and see a piece of gold or a diamond ring.” The result is Cut by Farmison & Co, the first bricks & mortar site for the formerly online-only business.
Designed to be an experience as much as a shop, the slick new premises in Ripon, North Yorkshire opened last month. Not only is there crossover with its online operation – it acts as a click & collect point, and there’s free delivery for shoppers living within a 30-minute radius – but the site is also open to walk-in shoppers, with a bespoke butchery service.
All elements have been designed carefully. The most eye-catching feature is a large glass wall, through which customers can watch Farmison & Co head of butchery Andrew Carrington at work. Pallagi says the screen creates “a bit of theatre” and minimises the intimidation factor for less confident shoppers.
“I wanted to make sure they could browse without being bothered, ask questions, and at the same time, see the product being cut,” he says.
Also noteworthy are the store’s two central counters, which look to embody Farmison & Co’s raison d’être: “to educate and inspire”. “One is about inspiring somebody that day, so it will feature something that’s convenient for that night,” says Pallagi – like the brand’s newly launched saucepan-ready range, for example. “The other is educating people about carcase,” achieved by presenting different cuts together to encourage people to buy the less popular ones.
Elsewhere, two large digital screens demonstrate Farmison & Co’s sustainable farming practices and show in-house chef Jeff Baker cooking. It’s a far cry from your usual butcher’s shop – and that’s exactly what Pallagi was aiming for.
Uninspired by UK competitors, he drew inspiration from Victor Churchill’s Sydney store. “From a pure retail perspective, it’s just uber cool,” explains Pallagi. “When you walk in, you can really see the product; you’ve got theatre with the butchers in there, you’ve got young sexy kids cutting meat with confidence… That was probably one of the main drivers of inspiration.”
There’s a reason Pallagi has chosen now to go down the bricks & mortar route. In the throes of the pandemic, its online-only proposition thrived. Sales more than doubled to £12.1m in the nine months to 31 December 2020, according to its accounts.
Now, as customers return to stores, Pallagi senses an opportunity. “Butchery and charcuterie counters are closing and it’s all going on shelf. I fear it might become a little bit soulless in the larger outlets and I think that’s an opportunity for us.”
Pallagi points to the professionals across the UK who spent more time than ever in the kitchen during lockdown. “You’ve got this tidal wave of home cooks that have just been discovered… I think they’re going to come back and be much more confident in cooking,” he explains.
Already, the store format is proving advantageous. Currently, two-thirds of Cut’s custom comes from offline sales, says Pallagi. And, although it’s early days, the click & collect option seems to be boosting basket size. “The last data I read was over 75% of click & collect [customers] bought an item in store.”
In time, Pallagi hopes to streamline the shopping experience further by mimicking the grab-and-go format of Amazon stores. If Cut proves popular, franchised concessions and vending machines in the UK and overseas could be on the cards. “I would hope to see us up along Princes Street in Edinburgh at some point and somewhere in and around central London,” he says.
Further afield, he’s dreaming of New York’s Chelsea Food Hall and the Galeries Lafayette in Paris. “I’d love to wave British flags in those two cities and I don’t think it’s a far stretch. It’s not necessarily going to happen this year or next, but as Brexit starts to align itself, I think those two opportunities are really interesting. I’ve got the bit between my teeth.”
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