A BUSINESS that served the North Yorkshire farming community throughout the pandemic is now finding new markets across the UK.

Sam Turner and Sons, Northallerton, never closed at any point during the past year to ensure its agricultural customers could continue to feed the nation.

During a visit to the business by local MP Rishi Sunak, the long-established family enterprise revealed how their online operation expanded three-fold in a matter of months while looking after their traditional farming market.

Director Charlie Turner said Sam Turner’s began selling online in a limited way in 2007-8. This part of the business had been growing rapidly before the pandemic but the events of 2020 had taken it to another level.

He said: “We created a dedicated packing/dispatch space for the online team in December 2019 but within four months we realised it wasn’t big enough.”

The two areas of greatest growth were country clothing and garden machinery and demand had been UK-wide.

Six employees had been recruited in recent weeks and the business was also creating seven opportunities for young people at risk of long-time term unemployment under the Government’s Kickstart scheme.

Mr Sunak unveiled the Kickstart scheme last year to help young people most affected by the economic impact of the pandemic.

Sam Turner’s is using the scheme to create six-month work placements, with wage, NI and pension costs met by the Government, in areas such as web content, sales, and warehousing.

The scheme is designed to offer placements experience and training that will help them secure permanent roles with the host company or elsewhere.

Mr Turner said his staff were looking forward to a better 2021. A number had been on the Government-funded furlough scheme but had now mostly returned to work.

“The company is very grateful to our team who proved really flexible to help us cope with the difficult circumstances of the last year, the extraordinary surges in demand at certain times and then areas like our café which have been closed for such long periods.

“Our café manager, who has been working behind the sales counter for the last year, is itching to have Sammies Café open again from next month.”

Mr Sunak said: “Sam Turner’s has supported the farming community through good times and bad for ninety years. This year has been as challenging as any and it is heartening to hear how the business has adapted and moved quickly to take advantage of the opportunities the pandemic has thrown up while continuing to look after their core customers.”

Interested young people aged 16-24 should enquire about the placements at Sam Turner’s through their Jobcentre.