Mon, 30 Mar 2020
A THATCHAM business has gone from celebrating to doing all it can to survive because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Pete and Laura Congerton celebrated Cook & Butcher’s 10th anniversary at the beginning of March.
But with the impact of Covid-19 affecting all aspects of society, Mr Congerton told the Newbury Weekly News it had been incredibly hard work to keep his business going.
He said: “One positive is I will never moan about how hard Christmas is again.
“Christmas is a busy time for butchers, but this makes it look like a walk in the park.”
His supply chain hit, Mr Congerton said he had no choice but to drive to London to stock up on supplies to keep the business open.
“Supply is very, very hard,” he said. “I must have gone to London over 20 times in the last week.
“One time I went to London and back four times.
“In order for us to stay open, we’re doing all we can to get stock in.”
Mr Congerton said that prices would be remaining the same for the foreseeable future.
He said: “We have got to keep afloat. Stock is costing us a fortune and I don’t want to push that on to the customer.
“We are doing four times the amount of work to get the same profit in the door. If I have to put prices up I’m at risk of damaging the business.”
Mr Congerton said his first supply run to London for eggs and potatoes had gone within an hour.
Saying he had no choice but to go the capital, Mr Congerton said: “The first time I was thinking ‘what the hell are we going to do’.
“All we have done is listen to customers saying ‘please can you get this if you can’.
“We opened at 8.30am and I got a call at 8.50am saying we had sold out – 150 sacks of potatoes gone in an hour; 540 trays of eggs and in an hour they had gone .
“I paid £15 a sack of potatoes and make £2 a sack. If I’m making £2 it’s a bit more money – it’s just doing all we can to keep going.
“We are doing all we can to survive. Everyone is in the same boat, but it’s been tough, really tough.
“It’s getting tougher and the longer it goes on prices are going to change.”
Cook & Butcher also has a shop in Aldermaston’s Rosebourne garden centre.
But with the centre closing on Tuesday, the family business is focusing entirely on its Thatcham operation, which has moved to home delivery.
“I think that’s the only way we are going to survive this and get out the other side.
“I have been told we can stay open as a butchers.
“I have got to think about my staff as they are at risk as well as everyone else.”
The business’s efforts have not gone unnoticed, with customers offering their thanks and providing gifts.
Mr Congerton said he had received an overwhelming response to a Facebook post explaining that the business could not guarantee supplies because of price increases and personal exhaustion.
He said: “The response was overwhelming. People are so appreciative of what we have done.
“I have had customers bringing in bottles of drink and cakes to say thanks so much for what you are doing.
“The response has just been massive. I have not had time to respond everybody.
“I had customers coming in just to say thank you. It made me quite emotional.
“Only two weeks ago we were celebrating 10 years in business and giving away hampers as a thank you to our customers .
“Ten years celebration has turned from celebrating to surviving. It’s just crazy.
“Please continue to support us.
“We will do everything in our power to keep going.”