Festive sales and footfall decline for Crawshaws

Butchery chain Crawshaw Group saw a 6.1% year-on-year drop in group like-for-like sales and a 2.6% decrease in customers in the run-up to Christmas (15 weeks to 24 December 2017).

The business did experience a “strong core festive trade”, with group sales in the week leading up to Christmas reaching a record £1.8m and almost 3,500 value meat hampers sold.

The decline in like-for-like sales was attributed to a “softer consumer environment”. Total group sales for the 15-week period rose by 0.6% versus the prior year, with group gross margin also increasing by 0.6%.

The company’s trading update said: “The softer consumer environment has impacted the progress we were seeing on LFL sales and, coupled with the certainty of additional cost inflation flowing through, we expect this to continue to act as a drag on profitability in the high street shops.”

It said it hoped to turn this drop around by “rebalancing the portfolio towards the factory shop model”. However, it also anticipated a “period of transition” as the necessary actions are being taken.

Crawshaws has opened two more factory shop units, taking its total to 10 within the 54-shop estate.

The business also gave a positive update on its partnership with 2 Sisters Food Group.

“The transformative partnership with the 2 Sisters Food Group is progressing well, with core poultry supply routes well-established and a framework for successful new product category tests landing over the festive period. We are already looking to leverage the supply agreement to expand this type of activity to increase the basket spend of our existing customers and to incentivise more new customers to build us into their regular shopping routine.”

Noel Collett, CEO, said: “On balance, this was a solid core Christmas trading performance against what remains a very tough high street environment. Our biggest-ever Christmas week - and the record number of meat hampers sold - clearly demonstrates the trust our customers place in us for their most important meat spend of the year. This gives us a solid platform to improve trading momentum going into 2018.

“We continue to focus on strengthening Crawshaws’ position as the country’s best-value butcher. We are excited by the performance of our factory shops and by the progress of our 2 Sisters supply agreement and, while there is much to do, we remain confident that this combination will be transformational for the long-term growth of the company.”

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