The family affair that aims to bring perfection on Christmas Day

December 08 2013
The family affair that aims to bring perfection on Christmas Day

IT”S HARD to pin down Nigel Buxton to interview him. He’s a very busy man, running not only Buxton Butchers in Winterbourne, but also a meat processing plant in Portbury.

IT”S HARD to pin down Nigel Buxton to interview him.  He’s a very busy man, running not only Buxton Butchers in Winterbourne, but also a meat processing plant in Portbury.

The plant supplies high end restuarants and hotels in Bristol.  He proudly tells me that two of the three Michelin starred restuarants in the city use his meat.

He’s certainly experienced enough.  He started working in the business when he was 12.  His family have been butchers since 1890.

 It’s a family affair too.  When I do finally manage to meet up the butcher’s shop is being manned by his brother Adrian and his wife Louise.

Despite the wealth of experience, Nigel has only owned his own business for four years.  Before that he was busy running other people’s businesses.

He’s not regretted the move despite the hard work, ; “It’s gone very well,” he tells me from the chill of the back of the shop.  “We’ve gone from strength to strength. The shop’s been continuously busy since we’ve had it and all we do is keep it very simple; we buy good quality and we sell good quality. We’re not interested in buying cheap and selling it out cheap because we won’t sell anything we won’t eat ourselves”.

It’s an old fashioned shop, in the best meaning of the word.  As we chat, Louise serves the steady stream of customers, most of whom she’s on first name terms with.

It’s this emphasis on service, along with quality that Nigel says stands them in good stead in the face of supermarket competition.  “They can come in and ask our advice and we can direct them into the right cut to buy. If they come and ask us what’s good this week, we will tell them the which steak is the best this week.  We will not sell them a steak if it’s not ready to be sold. The big processors and the supermarkets don’t have the knowledge and they don’t want to do that”.

Of course for butchers, January is a big month, a time when turkey is king and money can be made in the run up to Christmas.

Nigel though says it’s not the way to look at it;  “The run up to Christmas all we are concerned about is making sure that we’ve got everything that people have come in and ordered, that we’ve got the best that we can give them”.

“It’s not all about profit.  We will look at the profit after Christmas, but we are very concerned that we are going to give them a very good experience on their meal at Christmas and that’s what we’re about”.

“It’s the most important day of the year and if we get that wrong then we are in trouble”. 

His message must be spreading because Buxton Butchers are getting busier each year, and with it the workload gets heavier.

“We will work 18 hours a day for the whole week running up to Christmas Day. You don’t see it here, you see it at the other site where we process everything and then we ship it up here because of the volume of orders.”

On Christmas Day, the Buxton family can relax like the rest of us.  But as Nigel explains, the hectic January takes its toll.  After tucking into their own turkey, they normally fall asleep in the afternoon.