Digital Yorkshire - Farmison & Co, Ripon
PUBLISHED: 00:00 11 October 2013
While some big name bricks and mortar businesses have succumbed to the recession, Britain is leading the way in internet shopping with online sales making up 10 per cent of all retail business, ahead of the US and the rest of Europe.
It’s a fact that’s not been ignored by online gourmet fresh farm food shop farmison.com run by John Pallagi and Lee Simmonds from their base in Ripon. The company, which combines all the elements of a good farm shop and deli – sourcing fine cuts of meat, and premium cheese and veg from up to 75 artisan producers that also supply top chefs – takes full advantage of the sophistication, speed and convenience of online technology.
In the 18 months since Farmison’s launch, the company has secured £500,000 investment from venture capital firm, Finance Yorkshire; was runner-up ‘Online Retailer of the Year’ just behind Sainsbury’s in The Grocer awards and has recently teamed up with Dairy Crest’s ‘Milk & More’ scheme to become its official online grocer. Its latest exciting development sees it linking up with BBC television’s Saturday Kitchen to exclusively provide boxes with the base contents and recipes for three celebrity chefs.
‘Working in restaurants across the UK, I came across these fantastic, small, artisan producers who had no central market for their goods and I knew that we had to put them in touch with the consumer,’ says co-founder and former restaurateur John. ‘It’s about giving shoppers access to all the lovely ingredients a top chef would have but being able to cook them in your own home.’
While the online platform provides Pallagi and Simmonds with a cost effective way to create a vast shopping mall of regional produce, it offers customers convenience (packages can be on your doorstep within 48 hours from order to any postcode in the UK) at the click of a mouse.
‘We also offer bags of information about traceability and sourcing that you simply can’t find browsing the shelves at the supermarket,’ says John. ‘And you can shop whenever you want to. If you’re late home, you can order a steak at midnight in time for the weekend.’
But with the likes of Tesco and Amazon investing six figure sums into their online businesses, how can Farmison compete? ‘It’s all about choice,’ says John. ‘Take our steaks, for example, we can offer four or five different fillet steaks from four or five breeds, and four or five different farms, in three packs sizes – and all the breeds change every Friday so we always having something new to offer and can respond to the seasons.’
With local chef Jeff Baker recently taken on board as development chef, and a separate ‘community hub’ The Source being developed – which offers customers a bespoke, interactive shopping experience, as well as the ability to download recipe ingredients into their baskets in one click – Farmison’s site looks set to be up there with the best.
‘We’re also planning to have video content with live cooking demos,’ says John. ‘We can tell our customers that he or she will be cooking live at 7pm on Tuesday, say, and they can order all the ingredients two days before and then cook along.
‘This kind of technology is still in its infancy when it comes to food shopping, but as a nation we’re really embracing it, and it’s very exciting to be part of it,’ he adds.
Farmison is not the only Yorkshire company to tap into this growing digital market of course. Chef Database – a chef directory that puts chefs in touch with each other as well as potential employers – is also capitalising on the benefits of online and mobile phone technology.
Farmison & Co