Fife butchers not quite ready for the chop

Tom Courts Snr. & Tom Courts Jnr. Pic: Fife Photo Agency.
Tom Courts Snr. & Tom Courts Jnr. Pic: Fife Photo Agency.

The number of butchers’ shops in Fife has dropped since 2010, according to official figures.

Industry experts have put the trend down to the ‘rising dominance’ of big supermarkets and their tactics to push meat prices down

The latest Office for National Statistics data shows there were 40 butcher shops in Fife in 2018, compared with 45 in 2010.

However, one award-winning local butcher disagrees with the statistics and says that since 2014 the trade has actually seen a resurgence throughout the UK.

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Tom Courts, whose business is based in Burntisland, said: “I am surprised at the timeframe 2010 to present day as I don’t think there has been a net decline in butcher shop numbers during that time in Fife.

“There was a sharp decline during the 1990s but, since 2014, the trade in general has seen a resurgence throughout the UK. You don’t see many butcher shops in the larger high streets because the rent and rates are too high, hence many retail businesses have closed in these places.”

He said his business model for success is simple: “I work hard, sell the very best products at a fair price, continually invest in my business, formulate new product lines to stay on trend and, very importantly, have staff who work hard and give good service,” Tom said.

“Supermarkets cannot match the quality or service provided by an independent butcher shop. I proved that in Cowdenbeath where I used to own one of the busiest retail butchers in Scotland. It was right next door to a major supermarket. They were cheaper but my customers valued the quality and service we provided.

“I see a bright future for our trade.

“You never get anywhere lamenting days gone by. I always look forward.”