Pyne's of Somerset

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Pyne's of Somerset'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 Pyne's of Somerset 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

Managing Director Malcolm Pyne
Best of the West
Country on offer
Pyne’s of Somerset is a family-run, award-winning butchers,
founded by Phil and Beryl Pyne in 1984. Now under the
stewardship of their son, Malcolm Pyne, it remains proud
of selling meat that has been reared to the highest standard on
local farms. Malcolm tells
The Parliamentary Review
how they
emerged from the financial crash with a view to expansion and
development and how younger generations are increasingly
unable to cook for themselves.
When everyone else turns right, we always tend to turn left – we think it’s the only
way to stay ahead of the game. While the country was still punch drunk after the
financial crash of 2008 and businesses were furiously retrenching, we headed in
the other direction and invested more than £1 million in our dream: a regional food
hall that would become a destination in its own right.
To a certain extent, the move was forced on us: the business had long outgrown
our cramped premises in the village centre where we and our 10 staff constantly
waltzed round each other and our customers had to queue along the pavement
with traffic thundering past them.
On the other hand, the opportunity was unmissable: a vacant plot of land next
to the A38 on a site then being developed with a regional livestock market and a
clutch of associated rural businesses – all adding up to potentially lucrative future
footfall for us. Better still, it was just a few hundred yards off the M5, which made
it ideally placed to tap into the South West’s near-year-round tourist trade.
»Managing Director:
»Founded in 1984
»Based in North Petherton,
»Services: Butchery
»No. of employees: 45
Pyne’s of Somerset
Highlighting best practice
Quality products and quality
We decided to move, and it was
the best thing we ever did. Since
my parents set up Pyne’s in 1984,
thousands of traditional small butchers’
shops have gone to the wall. It’s a
continuing trend, and there are four
more within 12 miles of here that are
closing, but we were able to survive
partly by extending our product range.
Butchery remained the core activity
– we were named the Best Butcher’s
Shop in Britain in 2012 – but we also
stock some of the best produce from
the West Country, which is home to
Europe’s greatest concentration of
specialist food producers.
Today, we offer local cheese, bakery
goods, fish products, preserves and
cider – and customers are happy to
drive anything up to 30 miles to shop
here. We always buy the best and
offer the best, as our numerous quality
awards have shown, while trying to
hold prices to a reasonable level, even
while trading in a notoriously volatile
meat market.
We treat our staff as family, and
making them feel valued is unfailingly
reflected in the way they in turn
interact with the public. One first-time
customer recently remarked what an
experience it was to walk into our shop
as a complete stranger and be greeted
like an old friend.
Since moving here, we have expanded
our wholesale operation, which now,
for reasons of space, has been moved
to a separate site nearby. We have
had to rein back two of our other
businesses. We keep our hog roast
service and a five-star holiday let below
the £85,000 income threshold for VAT
because if we had to add it, we would
be priced out of the market.
Can’t cook, won’t cook
We are close to Hinkley Point C, a
new nuclear power station, which has
brought huge economic benefits to
us and other local traders but which
has also drained the local labour pool.
This has made it very hard for us to
recruit staff with the right qualities:
dedication, a willingness to learn and
an ability to engage with customers.
Unfortunately, young people are being
turned out of school not knowing how
to cook (because domestic science
was swept off the curriculum two
generations ago), manage money or
communicate with people – unless it is
by text.
And those final two years they are
obliged to remain in college until they
are 18 are all too often wasted because
they still emerge underequipped with
what used to be regarded as basic
survival skills. The ones who are going
to get positions with us are the ones
who come and get Saturday jobs once
they are 16 and have learned most of
the nuts and bolts by the time they can
start full-time work.
By way of contrast, we had a girl who
applied for a job and stated on her
Cider for all tastes
We always
buy the best
and offer the
CV that she enjoyed cooking, which
looked very promising for a food
business. At her interview, however,
it emerged that “cooking” meant
pressing a button on the microwave.
And here’s the real problem. There is a
fundamental, common factor that has
led to the closure of all those butchers
– and the grocers and greengrocers
that used to be in the village when Phil
and Beryl began trading. It’s the fact
that young people no longer know
how to cook, so there’s no point in
them buying any raw ingredients.
Hence the explosion in the
convenience food and ready meal
market and hence the fact that so
many town centres now consist of
wall-to-wall takeaways. Not since
Victorian times, when even a modest
middle-class household retained a
cook, have so many people in this
country paid other people to prepare
their food. But even the Victorians had
a degree of control over the quality
of what went into it. Celebrity chefs
and TV shows have to a certain extent
slowed this trend, but they haven’t
halted it. And we see little chance of
them ever reversing it significantly.
Staying at the top of our game
As to our own future, we are confident
of continuing to excel and grow the
business. If we are to expand further
and create more jobs, however, we will
need help. We have no real gripe with
regulations because an industry that
has such a bearing on public health
needs to be well regulated.
But costs are rising, and the public’s
spending power is under pressure,
meaning margins are tighter and
there is less money to reinvest in the
business. If we choose to plough a
pound back in, we should be allowed
to do so without having to pay tax
on it first. That’s currently one of
the most useful – and ultimately the
most beneficial – concessions that the
government could offer.
Young people
no longer
know how to
cook, so
there’s no
point in them
buying any
Malcolm and Julie Pyne
and some of their team

This article was sponsored by Pyne's of Somerset. 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