'˜I met Al Murray through my sausages'
He's won awards for his sausages and got Al Murray to judge children's drawings. Now a Sheffield butcher is ready to hand over the apron strings to a new family.
A butcher is searching for a new family to take on his award-winning farm shop in the heart of Sheffield.
Christopher Beech has won awards for his sausages and successfully extended his butchers into an inner-city farm shop in Walkley.
Now, however, with his sons grown up and wife Donna spending time with their grandson, he is hoping a new family will take Beeches of Walkley to the next level.
“People want us to open on Sundays and we have the opportunity to have a Post Office in the shop but I just can’t do it all,” said the 47-year-old.
“We want this to continue to be a thriving shop and an asset to the community.”
Christopher originally bought the smaller butchers shop from his old boss eight years ago.
“My two sons were working for the butchers as well so if I didn’t buy it I would have been made redundant and my two sons would have been as well,” he said.
When the convenience store next door closed Christopher and Donna worked with the landlord to expand, creating an inner-city farm shop known as Beeches of Walkley five years ago.
“I try to stock all Sheffield products,” said Christopher. “I have done it like a farm-style shop but it is in the city.”
Since then, the business has thrived winning both a Sheffield Award and the Exposed Award for best retailer.
Christopher also regularly wins gold awards for his home-made sausages – which has led to some interesting celebrity encounters.
As well as Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood, Christopher also met possibly the most famous pub landlord in the world – Al Murray.
“He was judging the awards in Sheffield and afterwards I spoke to his PR and said ‘Can you get him to come to the shop because all the children have painted pictures of him?’,” said Christopher.
“They said he wouldn’t have time. The next thing I knew I was back at the shop and he pulled up in his BMW and came in and judged all the pictures.”
Christopher said another highlight had been seeing South Road thrive and the relationships with his customers.
“It is a big community really,” he said. “All the customers are not just customers, they are friends.”
Beeches of Walkley is being sold through the UK’s leading business agent Ernest Wilson.
But Christopher isn’t looking for just any buyer: “We don’t want to hand it over to a supermarket or something like that.
“We want it to be someone who is going to keep it running for the good of the area.”
Asked what kind of buyer he would ideally like to take on the shop, Christopher said: “Like-minded people that aren’t afraid of hard work, because it is hard work.
“People that will get the community support and take the shop forwards. It would be great if a family could take it on and run it as a family business.”
Christopher is also keen to reassure his loyal customers that the shop isn’t closing. He is planning to stay on until a buyer is found – and has even offered to teach the new owners his award-winning sausage recipes.
“I am not going to just run away,” he said. “I am going to make sure someone comes in and I am going to help them as much as I can.
“I can show them how to make the sausages and everything else we do if they want.
“I don’t want customers to think I am abandoning them. We are still taking orders for Christmas and all of that as usual.”
Beeches of Walkley, 290-296 South Road, Sheffield, is being marketed by Ernest Wilson.
Established since 1956 the company has sold thousands of businesses across the UK.
For more information on Beeches of Walkley or any of the businesses currently for sale visit www.ernest-wilson.co.uk.