How to Open a Butcher Shop

Many thought that the rapid growth and success of chain supermarkets would see an end to independent food stores, such as greengrocers and butcher shops. Once a core part of local communities, many of these businesses were forced to set themselves apart in order to survive. Supermarkets have long been the affordable choice, whereas butchers have continued to offer a bespoke range of higher quality products. And it’s this difference that has sparked their return to the market.

As people become more conscious of what they eat and seek quality, ethical, organic ingredients for their homes, independent stores, such as butcher shops, are becoming popular again.

Furthermore, when you consider that the turnover from the retail sale of meat in the UK was nearly £22 million in 2019, it makes for a very attractive business opportunity.

If you’re wondering “how to set up a butcher shop”, you’ve come to the right place. However, before you start sharpening your knives, there are a few things you need to consider.

In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know about how to start a butcher shop business.

We will cover how to;

  1. Choose your Cut
  2. Build your Business Plan
  3. Select your Structure
  4. Pick your Premises
  5. Market your Meat

1. Choose your Cut

The first thing you need to do is decide what type of butcher shop you would like to run. Believe it or not, no two butcher shops are the same. Choosing your concept will inform many of the other decisions you make such as your target market.

Here are some butcher shop concepts to consider:

Traditional Butcher Shop

This is the conventional style of butcher shop that you have likely shopped in yourself. They sell various cuts of meat, including chicken, beef, and pork, as well as other complementary products.

Halal Butcher Shop

Halal meat, like all Halal food, is meat that has been prepared in accordance with Islamic law. These shops are similar to traditional butchers and offer similar products. However, the process in which meat is prepared is different.

For food to be classed as Halal, or “permissible”, it must be prepared correctly and approved by the Halal Food Authority. These shops have a very obvious target market and can be very successful in the right location.

Vegan Butcher Shop

Growing efforts for sustainability have seen a rise in alternative dietary choices. People who practice a vegan, vegetarian, or plant-based lifestyle are looking for meat-free alternatives to add to their cooking, and Vegan Butchers are fulfilling this need.

These shops sell products like meat-free sausages, vegan burgers, and even vegan cheeses.

Speciality Butcher Shop

Speciality butcher shop’s focus on selling unique products that are hard to find in other stores. This could be cured meats, game products, or speciality cuts that would otherwise only be found in restaurants.

If you choose this style, it’s important you understand your niche and your target market.

2. Build your Business Plan

Once you’ve decided on the type of butchers shop you would like to open, you need to build your business plan.

The best place to start is with the menu. This will include the type of products you will sell, and when you will sell them (some products will be seasonal, such as Turkey at Christmas). Next, you need to find suppliers, and where you can source your products from.

Next, you need to do some research on your competitors. You need to understand where they are, what they sell, what their advantages are and what your unique selling points are when compared to them. How you position yourself against your competition will be crucial for your success.

Following this, it’s time to think about numbers. The set-up costs for your butcher shop will vary based on a number of factors.

Depending on your location and concept, the start-up costs will differ. However, you will need some form of funding. As part of your business plan, you need to ensure you have enough money to start your business and stay afloat until you can turn a profit and repay any debt. It’s important, to be honest, and realistic at this step, as the numbers don’t lie.

There are major factors you need to consider, and your business plan will need the following elements:

  • The type of butcher shop you wish to run
  • What products you will sell
  • The name and brand of your shop
  • Your budget and funding (such as a loan)
  • Cost breakdown (start-up expenses, wages, marketing)
  • Location
  • Marketing and Advertising Plan

3. Select your Structure

Another key decision you have to make when opening your butcher shop is selecting your business structure. There are various benefits and considerations, such as tax, that will inform your decision.

The four most popular business structures in the UK are:

Sole Proprietorship: This is an unincorporated business – also known as a sole trader – that has one owner. This owner is obligated to pay personal income tax on business profits.

Partnership: A partnership is where a number of individuals agree on the running of a business, and share its ownership, profits, and liability. Partners share in the good, and bad aspects of the business.

Limited Liability Company: This structure is set up so that the company is seen as a separate legal person from its shareholders. This means that any shareholders will only be liable for their percentage of investment, rather than the entirety of the business.

Corporation: This is a business that is recognised as a single entity that is separate from its owners under the law, and is able to act accordingly.

4. Pick your Premises

The next step is choosing your location. This is a big decision and can have a huge impact on the success of your business.

Start by thinking about where your target audience is – where do they shop? Is it beneficial to be closer or further away from your competitors? Are there other stores you want to be near to – such as a greengrocer – to offer convenience to your customers?

Once you have an idea of your location, you need to find the right space. You need a building that offers enough space for you to store your stock, display and sell your products, and has access for deliveries.

Finally, you need to be properly insured. Owning and running a business is risky. Countless things can go wrong, which is why you need coverage to protect yourself Fires, storage malfunctions, or employee injuries can happen – but having comprehensive butcher shop insurance will ensure that you’re prepared for the worst.

5. Market your Meat

Having a strong marketing plan is important, as it will attract more customers.

There are a number of strategies you can employ that will depend on your brand or budget. Simple steps could be running a letterbox drop campaign or starting your own social media accounts. We strongly recommend establishing a digital presence as it is essential in this day and age of smartphones and search engines.

If you’re uncertain of the best approach, or simply short on time, you can always get professional help. A marketing agency, for example, can assist you with running digital ads, building a professional website, and other core marketing activities. This does come at a cost, however, so be mindful of your budget.

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