Behind the Counter: Chatsworth Farm Shop on a redesign that champions in-house production
An historic farm shop with a sizeable in-house and own label offering, Chatsworth Farm Shop in Derbyshire has unveiled a redesign by 93ft Design Studio which allows customers more space to move around the shop and discover innovative local products and in-house brands. Speciality & Fine Food Fair caught up with General Manager Liam Spivey to learn more.
What prompted the update of the shop, and what were some of the biggest changes you wanted to make with the redesign?
Set up in 1977, the farm shop was one of the first of its kind and it’s gone on to inspire many farmers and retailers to set up their own shops. In recent years however, I’ve been the one inspired by what others are doing. We’ve also recently ‘changed hands’ – the Duke of Devonshire has moved out of Chatsworth and the Duke’s son, Lord Burlington and his wife, Lady Burlington, have now begun to bring their own amazing vision to the wider Group. This redesign is a combination of 47 years of customer feedback combined with many pieces of inspiration taken from all different kinds of retailers with some of the family’s vision thrown in.
The real purpose for the redesign was to build a sustainable foundation for the next phase of the farm shop’s life. We’ve not only reset the product range, we’ve reshaped the building to allow for a better flow, we’ve introduced new display equipment and visual merchandising principles that allow for more profitable sales and we’ve reset the messaging and signage to make the key messages unmissable.
What changes have you made to how customers experience and move around the shop?
Incredibly, the most common piece of feedback we received when undertaking research was ‘don’t change anything’. While we took this on board and we were particularly sympathetic to what we had, we’ve been ambitious enough to present change back to the customer.
We’ve opened up the shop entrance both internally and externally, we’ve removed about 10% of shelving to simplify the range and we’ve lowered displays to improve the navigability. Essentially it’s a more spacious and pleasant space to shop, and in a former stud farm building that is 122 years old, it is not easy.
What types of products did you particularly want to showcase?
I believe that key to success in this industry is the ability to offer a unique product range and we were clear from the outset that the refresh must ensure we can promote our own goods first and foremost. What we’ve now got is a ‘spine’ of own label right from a seasonal table at the front, to biscuits, jams, chutneys, honey, condiments and bakery, meaning our own ranges are unmissable.
Obviously increasing the amount of own label product we sell has a margin impact too which again is a fundamental part of the sustainable foundation we looked to set.
How do you choose which products and suppliers to stock? Are there any new products you’re particularly excited about?
We’ve three key principles when it comes to sourcing – firstly can we make it ourselves, secondly can it be sourced from within the Chatsworth estate, and thirdly can it be sourced within 30miles of our location? Clearly we are limited in rural Derbyshire to how much we are able to source locally, but nevertheless we track the figure closely and we know we’re spending more each year with local suppliers.
Outside of this, I’m inspired by Great Taste Award winners but ultimately, flavour is king, and if we can find a product that just tastes amazing, I am always keen to give it a go. My current favourite product is the Makhani curry made by the Isle of Wight tomatoes – it’s excellent.
What aspect of the redesigned shop are you most looking forward to customers seeing?
We have dozens of colleagues in food production, and what we make in-house is excellent though I genuinely believe that in the previous iteration of the shop, much of it was hidden. The new design means what we do in-house is so much more prominent, and I’m super excited to see if people start to pick our produce up for the first time. We’ve also added a dry ager to our butchery, and I’m excited to see how that is received.
Find out more about Chatsworth Farm Shop at chatsworth.org/visit-chatsworth/shop-dine/farm-shop. To keep up to date with the latest news, interviews and industry trends, subscribe to the Speciality & Fine Food Fair newsletter.