How Cunningham’s online shop helped get them through the pandemic

How Cunningham’s online shop helped get them through the pandemic

Kilkeel butchery and foodhall Cunningham’s say their online shop has really taken off during the pandemic, allowing them to ship meal packs to as far away as London.

Cunningham’s Butcher, Foodhall, Bistro and Steakhouse were able to retain 98% of staff despite the pandemic and even broke through the 70-employee mark earlier this year, as they revealed to Neighbourhood Retailer.

Owner James Cunningham said the company has expanded hugely, from a small butcher’s shop with three employees 10 years ago to a diverse foodhall business including deli, bakery, ice cream parlour and bistro restaurant today.

When the pandemic hit, Cunningham’s were just in the process of renovating their existing workspace to create a new factory production area, and that enterprise really paid off in those turbulent months.

“We were able to get that completed, which allowed us to react to the changing dynamic created by the pandemic. All our stores were non-stop and we were able to produce everything under one roof. We had two night shifts a week – our teams came in and produced what we needed for the day,” James says.

“We really have a brilliant team of staff who reacted so positively in stepping up the whole way through the pandemic, keeping that quality service and offering home delivery to the local areas. 

Online shop

“With our website we were able to supply all over the UK and Ireland, and we’ve even been shipping stuff to London. Our online shops offer everything from steak pieces and healthy meal packs to weekend dinner packs and bespoke packages.

“The pandemic really put our online ship to the forefront of our offerings and we have been able to retain 98% of our staff since the pandemic arrived because we were able to react so positively.”

The company has just opened a new shop in Newry and James says the impact of the pandemic has seen more and more customers return to their local retailers, including butchers and bakers.

“While the supermarket shelves were going empty, because of our local supply chains we were to keep stocked through the pandemic. We have our own farm so at the moment all our lamb is coming into the shop from our farm,” he says.

“It meant customers weren’t being let down during the pandemic and we were able to step up and grow our customer base. Customers came back to local retailers and were able to see the time and dedication and skill set that their local butchers have. Being a family business, we were able to react quickly to any changes that presented to us, good or bad.”

The full feature on Cunningham’s will appear in the forthcoming issue of Neighbourhood Retailer.