Farmer Sharp is one of Cumbria’s most unusual businesses.
Owner Andrew Sharp isn’t a farmer – although that was his boyhood ambition – but realising he didn’t have enough capital behind him he trained as a butcher instead, setting in motion a varied career.
Prior to the financial crisis he supplied Cumbrian Herdwick lamb and Galloway beef to restaurants and gastro pubs through Borough Market in London.
His business now provides butchery training, and runs corporate team-building events and stag dos – all with butchery skills as the theme, delivered in a humorous and light-hearted manner.
He lectures at the School of Artisan Food in Nottinghamshire and travels all over the country, from his home at Dalton-in-Furness, to run the events.
Andrew said: “I’ve done more than 50 stag dos. They tend to appeal to men who are obsessive about meat and tools.
“The group will begin by boning and cutting some meat. It might be a red stag carcass or it could be a side of Herdwick mutton.
“After that we might take an in-depth look at farming, slaughtering, hanging and maturing, before we cook and eat the meat.
“It’s a bit different from a traditional stag do, going to the pub and getting drunk, although quite often that does happen afterwards.”
Andrew’s corporate clients include the Czech brewer Pilsner Urquell where he delivered a session in Manchester for the worldwide sales team.
He has also made TV and radio appearances, notably in the reality series Turn Back Time – The High Street, broadcast by the BBC in 2010, where four families experienced life on the high street from Victorian times to the 1970s. Andrew and his son Michael featured in five episodes running a butcher.
The more unusual a business, the more important it is to deliver a coherent and persuasive message to potential customers.
Although Farmer Sharp had a website, Andrew realised there was room for improvement but was wary about the cost of an upgrade.
He heard about our Subsidy Scheme through a chance conversation with an accountant in Kendal.
That prompted an approach to the Chamber’s Cumbria Business Growth Hub where his adviser, Sue Howorth, guided him through the application.
He received a £2,000 grant towards the £5,688 cost of a new website.
Andrew said: “It was pretty painless. We had to go through a tendering process to pick a designer and selected Sharps Media Group in Barrow.
“The others were good web designers but we went with Sharps because they understood the business. You’re not going to deliver a website that does what it’s supposed to unless you get what the business is about.
“If you haven’t got a decent website nowadays you’re nothing. I’m pleased with what Sharps have done and it’s certainly led to an increase in enquiries, which are up by between 30% and 40%.”
For more information on how your business can benefit from the Subsidy Scheme, click here or call 0844 257 84 50.
The Subsidy Scheme is receiving up to £2,528,767 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information click here.