Cut above the rest keeps high street alive in Horncastle

Butcher Kevin Dixon busy at Mellor's Butchers
Butcher Kevin Dixon busy at Mellor's Butchers

Times may be bleak for butchers in the wider area, but in Horncastle they help keep the high street alive.

That’s the wisdom of Ken Mellor, 80, who plays a key role in the beloved family business Mellor’s Butchers on the Bull Ring.

While butchers countrywide have been hit by a nine per cent decline in shops over the last eight years, Lincolnshire’s figure is more like 16 per cent since 2010.

The latest Office for National Statistics data shows there were 105 butchers’ shops in Lincolnshire in 2018, compared with 125 in 2010.

Industry experts are chalking it down to the challenge presented by supermarkets, and their role in driving down prices.

Chris Mallon, chief executive of the National Beef Association, said very aggressive tactics from big chains are forcing many small businesses to close for good.

He said: “The steady decline of butchers’ shops in the last 30 years has been a result of the dominance of large retailers in the food sector, driving market prices down.

“For small butchers’ shops, it is near impossible to compete with supermarket deals such as ‘buy one, get one free’ and special offers.”

However, according to Mr Mellor, the supermarkets’ biggest pull factor is their adjacent car parks.

He told the News: “Butchers shops give customer choice and specialism away from supermarkets.

“We have established local links with suppliers over generations, so all our produce is sourced in the local area.

“The beef is entirely our own and has been since 1982; the lamb comes from nearby Scrivelsby. You may encounter the odd special offer in the supermarkets, but all they’ve really got above butchers’ shops is the convenience of onsite parking.”

Mr Mellor said that by encouraging footfall, butchers’ shops keep the high street alive - they have a much more valuable knock on effect.

He added: “When you support your local butchers, you’re not just ensuring the future of one business.

“You’re supporting all the local farms, who are businesses too, supplying all their quality produce.”