New suppliers welcome as Booths grows

Darlington and Stockton Times: 29TH STORE: Edwin Booth and some of the suppliers outside the new supermarket 29TH STORE: Edwin Booth and some of the suppliers outside the new supermarket

THE Booths supermarket group has opened its latest store at Milnthorpe, Cumbria.

It now has 29 stores and a turnover of about £270m and welcomes regional farmer and food suppliers.

Edwin Booth, group chairman, said it required high quality and consistency of supply, but did not seek to strip value out of its supply chains. He said: “We need to understand the needs of our specialist suppliers and build a close relationship with them.

“The most difficult relationship is in the milk sector where the product has become highly commoditised and used as a price weapon.

“We have developed the Bowland Fresh milk brand which sells at a premium.

This is not easy at the moment, but we are pushing this added value back down the supply chain.”

Mr Booth said price was not the key issue driving the business. “We are different from many other supermarket businesses in that our concern is the price-quality ratio balanced with consistency and continuity of supply,”

he said.

“We carry a huge range of brands – I do not think any other UK supermarket group comes near. One reason is that the North-West of England has a very large number of food producers and manufacturers. We carry a wide range of regional products wherever we can.”

The group welcomed approaches from potential suppliers, he said. It has a central buying department which holds “meet the buyers’”

events.

Potential suppliers vary from some looking to supply a single store, while others look to supply all 29.

Eric Taylorth, of Great Langdale, has supplied purebred Herdwick lamb to Booths for six years. He said specifications were not “over tough” with carcases in the 16 to 20kg range at eight to ten months. His lambs are finished using a little concentrate with most going away during January to April.

He also supplies finished beef from his White Shorthorn cross Aberdeen- Angus suckler cow herd which are put to Aberdeen- Angus bulls. Ensuring continuity of supply meant additional management, but had proved well worthwhile.

Peter Ascroft, of Tarleton, Preston, supplies various types of cauliflower and cabbage, a range of beetroot varieties and Wilja potatoes.

He suffered heavy losses this year due to extremely wet conditions and many of his cauliflowers were smaller than normal.

“I think of Booths as our farmers’ market. They are professional sellers and we are professional producers,”

he said.

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