Penrith based company Cranstons Quality Butchers have just completed a £1.5 million pound project enhancing their Ullswater Road production facility and completing a refit of their head office.
The company celebrated the completion with a tour of the factory attended by Rory Stewart MP for Penrith and the Border, Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership Director Graham Haywood, and two of Cranstons best livestock suppliers Geoff Bell of Far Broom Farm in the Eden Valley and Robert Dickinson of High Knipe, Bampton.
The project, which was supported by Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, allows Cranstons to meet the increased volume for butchery and delicatessen produce created by the company’s recent retail expansion and equips Cranstons should they wish to acquire new retail sites in the future.
Cranstons which celebrated its centenary in 2014 operates four local produce food halls and two traditional high street butchers shops along with a thriving online shop delivering nationally. The newly extended production facility on Ullswater Road is a hive of activity creating a wide range of butchery and delicatessen produce.
Cranstons still processes all of its own fresh beef, pork and lamb in house; makes its own sausages; cures its own bacon and hams and creates over 20,000 pies and sausage rolls a week. Demand for all this delicious produce has never been higher as Cranstons retail estate has expanded significantly since the millennium. Cranstons local produce food hall format pioneered with the 2003 opening of the Cumbrian food hall in Penrith. It has proved a hit with shoppers. 2009 saw the Penrith food hall expanded to include extra retail space and Café Oswald’s and further food halls were opened at Orton Grange in 2012 and Brampton earlier this year. 160 staff are now employed across the six retail sites, production unit and head office.
The latest investment included a 5000 square foot extension to the production facility. The key benefits from this are a completely new pie production room, a new goods in warehouse and a state of the art beef maturation chiller which dry ages Cranstons beef sourced direct from tried and trusted farms. Present on the tour of the complete production facility were Robert Dickinson and Geoff Bell of High Knipe and Far Broom Farm who’ve supplied Cranstons with their livestock for a number of years.
Roger Cranston, operations director said: “The expansion of the production facilities has been incredibly beneficial to the efficiency of the business. We are now able to meet demand for produce and mature our own beef in a specialist chiller, reducing food miles.”
The company’s head offices had not been invested in since the early 1990s. The recent renovation was welcomed by staff as the work space needed some TLC. The investment has created a warm, light and airy working environment for the directors and office team.
Charles Watt, Finance Director said: ''The office refurbishment was a welcome refresh. They were incredibly outdated and an uncomfortable working space. We’ve now opened out the offices which has brightened the atmosphere and ''
Philip Cranston MD “Our business has changed significantly since we first moved to Ullswater Road and built the production unit back in 1988. The factory extension has increased our production capacity significantly and the addition of specialist maturation chillers should further enhance or reputation for quality. We are confident that this latest investment will allow us to enhance the breadth and quality of our produce whilst also giving us the capacity to launch another food hall in the future when the right site comes up. The latest investment will strengthen the business securing jobs for the future.''
Philip was keen to point out that despite all the recent changes Cranstons traditional values remain as they were in the days of his great uncle Stanley Cranston: ''Our master butchers work closely with Cumbria’s best livestock farmers and use traditional butchery skills to create great tasting produce serving the community with good old fashioned standards of customer care. We have had to evolve and meet changing shopping habits but these values will not change.''
Rory Stewart MP for Penrith and the Border, said: "I have thoroughly enjoyed today's visit with Philip, Roger and the team, and I am - as ever - hugely impressed at all that Cranstons do: from their policy on locally sourcing farm-fresh meat and product, to their unique understanding of local buyers' tastes and needs, they are a truly exemplary local business, whose model has proven to be a template for rural Cumbrian enterprise. Above all, it is clear to see that Cranstons is a fantastic local employer, and one that embodies so many of laudable aims: a focus on the local, and the growth of local economies; investment in the potential of trainees and apprentices; and of providing SMEs with the environment and the tools with which to flourish. Cranstons really embodies Cumbria's resilience, enterprise, and commitment to making business thrive, and we are lucky to have them."
Graham Haywood, Director of Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, says: “Cranstons Quality Butchers is one of over 40 Cumbrian firms we have been able to help in 2015-16 by investing Regional Growth Funding grants to expand premises, increase capacity and develop their respective businesses.
“Boosting productivity and innovation in Cumbria’s food and drink sector is a crucial element in nurturing a vibrant rural and visitor economy within the county. It’s great to see that as a beneficiary of this funding, Cranstons has been able to expand its food production and retail offer and is now well on the way to further business growth and success.”