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Case Study - Hartley Wintney Country Market

It’s early on a Friday morning and there is a lot going on in the hut on Green Lane in the village of Hartley Wintney in North Hampshire.   A thriving Country Market, which has been running for over 25 years, meets every Friday, between 10.00am and 11.00am, selling fresh cakes, pies, produce, plants and handicrafts. 

The hall is buzzing with activity, with tables being erected, covered and filled with delicious home produced food, flourishing home grown plants and produce and beautiful hand-made crafts.  Outside, the queue of customers at the door is growing, waiting patiently for opening time so that they can stream in to secure their favourite products.

In one corner of the hall, a small group of producers is busy co-ordinating delivery boxes for the weekly orders of homemade baked goods and preserves they supply to a growing number of local shops.  The boxes are groaning with beautifully decorated and packaged loaf cakes, sponges, tray bakes and fancy cakes, and jewel-like jars of jams and chutneys all sporting attractive product labels which tell the customer just who made the product and where it comes from. 

There are 9 Cooks in the Hartley Wintney team who supply 6 outlets; all have their own specialities and they work together to fulfil the orders.

The Hartley Wintney producers have built an excellent reputation locally for supplying delicious, fresh, high quality homemade goods and the team has established a very slick operation to do it!  All the shops comment on the reliability of supply from the Cooks and are delighted with the variety of goods on offer.

“The co-ordination of orders was chaotic to start with but now it is finely tuned”, Cook, Enid Tremear commented, “our outlets are quite happy to accept different products if a particular producer is unable to supply; we work as a team to cover holidays and sickness.”

With the help of preserve producer, Claude Kensett, Enid co-ordinates the orders and produces a simple spreadsheet which she emails out to the team, and which tells each producer what they need to produce that week and who it is for.  The weekly Market acts as a distribution hub for the producers, who are all bringing produce to the Market for sale as well.  Once the delivery boxes are filled, they are personally delivered by the producer who lives closest to the outlet on their way home from the Market.  The producers have developed good relationships with the outlets and a friendly exchange means that each party can make suggestions and quickly resolve any problems, although there are very few.

Best before dates have been established for perishable goods using the windowsill test – each product is kept wrapped on a windowsill to mimic a shop shelf and tested daily to establish its keeping qualities – none of the dates are overestimated as both the producers and the shops only want to sell the products at their best!

Best before end dates for preserves is simple as all the products last for at least a year and they don’t stay on the shelves for as long as that!

Each producer invoices Hartley Wintney Country Market individually for the goods that they produce; as there are few overheads, the Market takes a commission of 3%, which allows the Cooks to sell to the shops at a slightly lower price than at the Friday Market; shops then mark up the price by around 30-35%. For example, loaf cakes sell at £3.50 to £3.70, iced sponges around £4.90.  This gives the shops a fair return, the price to the customer is reasonable and the producers get the same amount as if they had sold it at Market – all guaranteed sales!

The producers are paid on a monthly basis which includes a nominal amount for delivery mileage; all the payments are made via Bacs.  Claude is the treasurer for the Market as well as a producer and he makes up the invoices for the shops, which are delivered with the goods.  The shops pay the Market directly via the Bacs system too.

The Cooks have worked together to produce the attractive and colourful product labels; using guidelines and a web-based labelling programme, the producers can each build product labels which comply with regulations, giving the customer all the information that is required to make an informed purchase.  As the owner of a laser printer, which prints high quality and durable labels, Claude Kensett has taken on the printing of the labels for the whole team.

The Cooks also have a range of posters, a leaflet, and merchandising materials available to them to dress the displays of Country Markets products in the shops, although each shop is very different.  A design toolkit allows the team to produce bespoke promotional material to suit the outlet they are supplying.

The key to the success of the group is co-operation and communication!

The Hartley Wintney Cooks sell around £400 worth of goods into the shops each week, which provides a valuable additional income stream, amounting to 30% of the annual turnover of the Market and it is growing!

There are many benefits to selling Country Markets products into shops:

·         it increases the opportunity for customers to buy delicious, locally produced Country Markets products

·         it uses locally grown and raised produce

·         it supports the use of traditional skills

·         it raises awareness of the local Country Market

·         it supports local business and keeps money in the local economy

·         it provides an additional opportunity for working cooperatively

·         it provides guaranteed sales and a regular income to the producers involved

·         it provides a regular income to Hartley Wintney Country Market

·         it provides an opportunity for promotion of the outlets on the Cooks of Country Markets website

 



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