Solihull butchers eye expansion after online lockdown boom

Eric Lyons 2[2]

Despite columns and columns on the rise in veganism, there remain a lot of meat-eaters out there.

A butchers in Solihull is planning to expand its premises with the help of a £150,000 finance package from Lloyds Bank, provided as part of the government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

Eric Lyons Butchers, a fifth-generation family-owned business in Knowle, will use the funding package to increase the size of its store on Knowle High Street with a new specialist packaging and distribution centre, office space and increased fridge space.

The expansion will help the butchers to meet growing demand for its online delivery service, which was launched during the first national lockdown in March 2020. The business has continued to see high customer demand for its services and is currently making more than 150 deliveries each week, resulting in an increase to its annual turnover by more than a quarter.

The firm has grown its team from nine to 14 employees during the pandemic and expects to take on more staff in its packaging, distribution and delivery teams to meet the increased demand, as well as increase the radius it is currently able to deliver to from four miles to five miles.

The financial package will also help the business to invest in new state-of-the art technology and machinery to increase the capacity and efficiency of its service, and ultimately support its long-term ambition to offer nationwide delivery.

Additionally, the funds will be used to develop the business’ existing online platform and grow its digital presence as it continues to explore new avenues for growth. This has seen the firm invest in Facebook marketing and create its own YouTube channel to provide recipe inspiration for customers.

During the pandemic, the local business used funds raised by its delivery service to support the community by providing donations to the NHS, Love Knowle Park Project and Knowle Village Cricket Club.

Nick Lyons, director at Eric Lyons Butchers, said: “Our online delivery service began as a way to safeguard our staff and better service customers during the pandemic, but it has really taken off and shows no sign of slowing. We’ve seen demand remain high even when we’ve been able to open the shop without affecting footfall, so it will continue to be an important part of our business as we move forward.”

The business has previously received support from Lloyds Bank in 2018 to install a new hot food and food-to-go counter, as well as increased refrigeration space.

“The Lloyds Bank team has always been incredibly supportive of our ambitions. They’ve helped us with everything from setting out our long-term plans for growth, to identifying the right financial packages to help us achieve our goals. We’re looking forward to continuing this close relationship as we look ahead to further growth.”

Nigel Arnold, Relationship Manager at Lloyds Bank, said: “Eric Lyons’ forward thinking during lockdown has helped them to tap into a huge opportunity. The new investment will enable the firm to scale up its delivery service even further and ensure it remains an important part of its growth moving forward.

“The success Eric Lyons has enjoyed is another example of how much local businesses are valued within their communities. We’ll remain by their side and support other local businesses in communities across the Midlands as part of our ongoing commitment to helping Britain prosper.”