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Butcher opens sixth Belfast shop as family firm expands

By Rachel Martin

Published 22/09/2015

William Corrie, owner of Corries Farm Butchers, at his flagship store in Holywood
William Corrie, owner of Corries Farm Butchers, at his flagship store in Holywood

Young entrepreneur William Corrie is working hard to open his sixth butcher's shop next month.

The new Corries Meats store on the Ormeau Road will take a different format from the others and will feature hot and cold deli counters, as well as a roast service station.

"The Ormeau Road is an up-and-coming area. There's a lot of office workers, workmen and students in the area," William said.

"We've made the new shop slightly different from our others because it's aimed at a grab-and-go market."

He opened his own shop nine years ago, when he was just 21 in Ballyhackamore. Since then, he has expanded the chain to include units in Holywood and Cherryvalley in east Belfast.

He said that because he was not interested in becoming a farmer, the shops have given him a way of staying involved in his family's business.

Today, the 30-year-old from Newtownards employs 30 staff and uses his shops to complement the beef and dairy farms run by his brothers which employ a further 12 people.

He hopes the new shop will put the company in a position to take on five more staff.

"There's the factory on the farm where all the main work is done, and then everything is sent up the road in the van to each of the shops.

"We've got a good system in place and that makes it easy to expand the way we have," he said.

His grandfather Willie Corrie started the first shop on his farm in Newtownards in the 1970s after he had a cow home-butchered but found that there wasn't enough space in the freezer for its meat. A neighbour bought half of the cow and the incident spurred Willie Corrie to set up an on-farm butcher's shop.

The business was then taken on by William's father Will, and has since been split into three separate entities run by William and his two brothers - Gareth, who runs the Newtownards shop and beef farm, and Richard, who runs the dairy farm.

Each is fitted with a weighbridge and any diesel or feed transported between the businesses must be accounted for.

"The business has gone from strength-to-strength, we started with the Newtownards store and then opened the ones in Ballyhackamore and Holywood. We enjoy what we're doing and we just keep at it," William said.

Recently, the family made an investment of £600,000 in Corries Meats which was used to refurbish the factory, and added a Himalayan salt chamber, an investment which allowed them to add value to their products and appeal to a more selective generation of consumers.

"Because we are such a family business we are very laid back - any discussions are made over a kitchen table," said William. "When we do something we do it right, we don't say we'll spend 'X' amount, we spend what we need.

"All of our shops have opened organically, we have never really went out hunting for a shop - everything has come to us. We don't have plans or have meetings about meetings. My plan at the moment is just to open the new shop and get through Christmas."

Together, the brothers also carry out a considerable amount of charity work. This year 4,000 people, including actress Sienna Miller, attended their annual Fun on the Farm event which has raised over £110,000 for charity.

Belfast Telegraph

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