John Sheppard Partner Profile

 When was your business established? 

In 1936 our first butchers’ shop was opened by Albert Sheppard. Albert was the oldest of three brothers, Albert, William and John. William and John both served in the British Army during the second world war and on their de-mobilisation returned to the family business. They worked within the business until Albert’s death in 1962. Following this a new company was formed, Sheppard Bros which traded under this name for 10 years until John Sheppard Butchers was launched. 

Today the business is still very much a family concern with no less than six members of the family involved in the business. The company supplies high quality meat and poultry products to many well-known Hotels and Restaurants, National Catering Authorities, Schools, Universities, Sports Stadia, Hospitals, Social Service Departments, Bakeries, and other large food manufacturers. With a modern fleet of over 35 refrigerated vehicles we distribute fresh and meat and poultry across the majority of England & Wales. 

Please tell us about your Awards, Certifications and Quality Standards 

We are fully accredited catering butcher holding NACB licence (equivalent to BRC level 6), STS (Public Sector), Red Tractor, EC licence, Soil Association (for Organic) and many more. 

What do you think sets you apart from your Competitors? 

Being privately, family owned we are very flexible and reactive to our customers needs. Our wide range of clients in both the public and private sector means we have the product range and service capability to supply all types of customers from hospitals to fine dining hospitality clients. 

How do you measure customer satisfaction? 

Whilst we do arrange KPI’s from time to time, the real indication of customer satisfaction is in their continued business. Our retention levels are very high and we ensure we maintain high standards of quality and service at all times. Being able to evolve the offer to suit our customers’ needs mean we ensure we remain their preferred supplier over a long period of time. I also believe that your success as a supplier in the food industry is often judged on how quickly you rectify mistakes. The flexibility in our transport and operation as a whole means we can prioritise customers in these situations very quickly. 

What % of your produce is from UK? 

Over 80%. The imported products we source are mainly bacon, gammon, cooked meats etc. We have UK equivalents for these items though for customers who want 100% British Meat. 

What does sustainability mean to you? 

Sourcing responsibly from highly accredited suppliers with strong animal welfare standards. It’s also important to embrace bodies such as Red Tractor and others who are trying to raise the bar on animal welfare. Our responsibility in turn is to promote this to our client base along with other suggestions on reducing plastic, rationalising deliveries etc. 

John Sheppard Butchers have also recently invested heavily in solar panels at our HQ. When we doubled the premise size, we installed solar panels across 70% of the roof. This will enable us to have 20% of our energy from renewable sources. We are offsetting 23 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide per annum which we are very proud of. 

What trends/changes have you seen in your business over the last year? 

The industry is much more reliant on ordering portals now, so IT investment is becoming increasingly important to keep up with the changing ways which our clients communicate with us. The majority of our customers are now ordering electronically by one means or another, so we have had to invest in various pieces of software to ensure the process is as seamless as possible. 

A general move towards UK Farm Assured meat has happened over the last 10 years, however interestingly the downturn in the economy has prompted some buyers to start researching European and imported meats to make a saving. Unfortunately, the value of the pound has meant the savings which were once significant have now eroded significantly so the switch isn’t as viable as it once was. 

What are your thoughts on the rise in popularity of veganism? 

The food industry has seen many trends come and go. I think the jury’s out as to whether Veganism’s popularity will remain at current levels. Personally, I think everything should be enjoyed in moderation especially if by abstaining from it could affect your health. 

What would you say is the most underrated cut of meat? 

Pork in general is a very cheap protein and could/should be utilised much more in my opinion. 

What is your favourite recipe using that cut? 

No recipe needed - just season the meat and cook on the barbecue! 

If you could have any technology for your business what would it be? 

An integrated stock/sales system so that as items are ordered, stock levels are adjusted electronically, and our buyer has visibility on what volumes are needed to replenish the stock the following day. 

Or…. artificial Intelligence to read the minds of chefs so we know what they need in advance! 

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