Colin Dawes of Foxbury Farm shop is FW award finalist







Colin Dawes Thumb Colin Dawes
Foxbury Farm Shop and Butchery
Foxbury Farm, Brize Norton, Oxfordshire 


Colin Dawes has built his farm shop and butchery business by following one basic principle: “Foxbury first, local second, British third and there is no fourth.” This principle has served his business well.


Foxbury Farm Shop and Butchery began after the 2001 outbreak of foot-and-mouth forced Mr Dawes to review the operation of his business. He decided its future lay in selling the farm’s produce direct to the consumer and his beliefs were confirmed after taking part in his first farmers’ market.


“When I did my first farmers’ market in 2001 I took £600. It wasn’t easy money, but it was there for the taking and I realised selling direct to the consumer was the way we had to go.”


At this point about 242ha (600 acres) – much of which was rented grazing land – were taken out of production and left to fallow while the farm shop and butchery was established. The intention was to re-introduce this to the farming system as and when the business needed it. It was a risky strategy, but has enabled the retail sector to grow rapidly in the knowledge that supply would be able to meet demand.


Today the farm shop and butchery handles all the meat produced on the farm – the offspring from 900 ewes, 70 suckler cows and 40 Gloucester Old Spot pigs.


To ensure full carcass use a number of markets has been developed to ensure nothing is wasted. Foxbury Farm Shop supplies local schools with pork, beef, sausages and mince in addition local shops and petrol stations sell Foxbury Farm ready-meals and other lower value cuts while all premium cuts are sold through the shop.


This winter the farm shop and butchery will relocate to a converted barn on the farm. This will treble the shop area and incorporate a café and fish and bread franchises to improve the overall offering.


Mr Dawes is also timing his expansion to coincide with the creation of a major housing estate of 1200 homes less than three miles from the farm.


This development represents a sizeable increase in the customer base and plans are being implemented to target this new market.


The judges were particularly impressed by his efforts to position his business to withstand the arrival of a supermarket nearby. Currently no supermarkets operate within a 12-mile radius of Foxbury Farm, but the growing population in and around Brize Norton will eventually attract the interest of one or more of the multiple retailers.


Mr Dawes has given his business five years to be of a sufficient scale and diverse nature that it will be capable of accommodating that eventuality.


His commitment to the community was also evident throughout the judges’ visit. Foxbury Farm has close links with several regional schools and hosts visits throughout the academic year.


Charity fundraising events are held almost monthly with all proceeds given to various local charities. To maintain a high profile, Foxbury Farm is a regular stallholder at two local farmers’ markets and proud supporter of numerous community events across the region.


 








WHAT THE JUDGES LIKED 


  • Significant business growth achieved over past five years resulting in a turnover of about £1m in 2007 with a demonstrable profit;
  • Recognition of opportunities posed by new housing developments;
  • Significant ground made in gaining market within the public sector. In addition to building on already established contracts with local schools Mr Dawes is in negotiations to supply other aspects of the public sector market;
  • Strong connection with the local community;
  • Good integration between farm and the retail business;
  • Sound appreciation of external threats


Click on image to enlarge


Foxbury1_th1 Foxbury1_th2 Foxbury1_th3 Foxbury1_th4


Foxbury1_th5 Foxbury1_th6 Foxbury1_th7 Foxbury1_th8


Foxbury1_th9