A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Fleming's's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Fleming's is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Director Guthrie Batchelor and
the team
Fleming Butchers, founded
in 1925
Established in 1925, Fleming Butchers was purchased by
current Director Guthrie Batchelor in 2014. Guthrie and
his family, who are farmers by trade, saw the historic shop
as the ideal location from which to sell their quality produce
directly to the consumer, cutting out the intermediaries. It
is now a thriving business employing 23 staff that include
butchers, bakers, secretaries, van drivers and front of shop.
Guthrie tells
The Parliamentary Review
more about how they
adapted the family business.
As a business, we pride ourselves on the quality and traceability of every bit of
produce. All our pork is produced on our farm, our beef is from our own farm or
purchased at Forfar mart and our lamb is also purchased from the mart, largely
because of the excellent choice of lamb available on the east coast of Scotland. To
transport our meat, we have invested in four wholesale vans and a retail shop in
Arbroath that was refurbished in 2017.
We are extremely proud of the unique skills our workforce possess, skills that are
becoming increasingly difficult to acquire. Our bakers are able to make all our
pastry products from scratch and our butchers bone out all of our meat products,
after ensuring that they are hung on the bone to enhance the flavour.
From our pastry to our puddings, which include haggis, oatmeal and black
pudding, as well as our sausages and stir fry, almost all of our products are made
on site. By making our products from scratch we can guarantee quality at each
»Director: Guthrie Batchelor
»Founded in 1925
»Based in Arbroath, Angus
»Services: Butchers
»No. of employees: 23
Highlighting best practice
stage of production, while also
ensuring all the constituent ingredients
are locally sourced.
Enhancing our services
In the last two years we have seen
significant growth in the wholesale
and retail part of the business.
The wholesale sector is very price
competitive and this makes it difficult
to remain profitable. In response, we
are looking at increasing efficiency
within our wholesale arm by
purchasing a flow wrapping machine
for our bakery products. By replacing
a labour-intensive job with modern
machinery, we can reduce wage costs
and allow our staff to focus on other
aspects of the business.
Two years ago, we underwent a
large-scale refurbishment of our retail
shop in Arbroath. It is now double
the size, modernised and far more
welcoming. As a result, 2018 was
our most successful Christmas and
New Year period in terms of sales,
and we enjoyed a profitable start to
2019, despite the early months often
representing a lull period.
The challenges facing small
Given that we are a retail shop in a
rural town, a lot of the same issues
that affect other retailers will obviously
affect us. Arbroath now has four
supermarkets, with a potential fifth
currently being proposed, and we
simply can’t compete with them
on price for some of our high-end
products. We are fortunate that
our street is made up of several
independent retailers and this helps
make our area more of a destination
for customers. The local council
policy has recently brought in off-
street parking charges, however,
which has not helped a lot of our
Other industry-specific issues
draw on similar parallels to the
issues we face on the high street.
Small, independent businesses are
constantly at a disadvantage to
larger organisations, and we face
the particular disadvantage of our
nearest independent abattoir being
95 miles away. Although the majority
of our produce is produced in our
Judging at the Aberdeen
Northern Mart Christmas
We are
fortunate that
our street is
made up of
retailers and
this helps
make our area
more of a
destination for
own county, we have to send it on a
190-mile trip before we can use it in
our shop. There are larger abattoirs
closer than the one that we use, but
they are owned by larger organisations
who only kill livestock that they will
use themselves – a very effective way
to drive up costs for their local retail
competitors. We have been given
some hope, however, as a recent
agricultural bill has been proposed in
the House of Commons that looks to
address this issue.
Furthermore, although we have been
happy with our general trend of
improving sales, we have found it ever
more difficult to maintain a reasonable
margin. With increases in the majority
of our costs, including electricity,
bakery and butcher ingredients,
pension provisions and wage increases,
we have had to pass these cost
increases onto our customers. In our
view this is quite a dangerous trend
and one we are deeply concerned
with. We can only expect our retail and
wholesale customers to put up with
price increases for so long.
Securing sustainability
Our key aim moving forward is to
increase our focus on improving
efficiency throughout the entire
business. Unfortunately, one aspect
of this process does include going
forward with a leaner and more
efficient workforce. This is ultimately
going to result in reducing our
workforce down from the current 23
we employ. A lot of our procedures
are fairly labour intensive, and we
will have to look at new ways in
which we can replace labour with
The negative effects of this are that we
may lose some of that artisan aspect
that our products currently deliver.
This is something that will have to be
carefully weighed up. Finally, to end
on a more positive note, we remain
confident that we can’t be rivalled
locally in terms of the traceability and
quality of our products. We just need
to keep up the current good work and
let our products do the talking for us.
Our key aim
forward is to
increase our
focus on
the entire
Local livestock market


This article was sponsored by Fleming's. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster