England Features

A Quintessentially British Family Butchers

Family firms used to be the backbone of the High Street and thankfully some survive today. Find out about the second generation family owned butchers renowned for the Bassett Banger! Founded in 1985, by professional butcher Keith Crump and wife Jean, K & EJ Crump & Son continues under the leadership of the next generation, Andy, remaining a family butcher who know one thing above all else – that their customers are number one!

A quintessentially British family butchers, no other butcher strives harder to be the best traditional butcher in the Swindon area and the quality and excellence of their meats mean customers return time and time again.

Like all family businesses there is a story to tell, and K & EJ Crump & Son is no different. Thirty years ago Keith and Jean Crump took a detour on their way home to Oxfordshire. The couple, who had spent months scouring Devon and Cornwall in vain for the perfect village shop to house their family butcher’s, fancied a brief break from the road. Driving down Wootton Bassett High Street a ‘for sale’ sign caught their attention.

The town centre has changed beyond recognition since that fateful day in 1985 but despite the crushing march of supermarket giants, the business remains a welcome constant for legions of loyal customers.

“Obviously it was fate” says Andy Crump, 49, who took over the family business when his late father Keith retired in 1999. “I came back in 1988 and that’s where I’ve been ever since.” says Andy. “My dad retired in 1999. I was 34 and I was thrown in at the deep end. It was a big challenge. My dad had an aura about him. Everybody loved mum and dad and it was a big role to fill.”

“Butchering has had its testing moments. It’s not the easiest profession to be in. I can be here at 4am, get the window displays ready, and start prepping for the day. It’s quite long hours. At least 65 per cent of the work is done behind the scenes. Everything is homemade. We make the sausages on Wednesdays and Fridays and it takes three people four hours to make 750lb of sausages! We have 26 kinds at any one time on display. If I didn’t enjoy it I wouldn’t still be in the game.”

K & E J Crump & Son counts six full-time staff including Andy and four part-time employees. Since its inception, the business has won 14 gold and eight silver medals and the Bassett Banger ‘dreamt up’ by Keith remains a firm favourite in the town. The store sells ten times as many of these as any other variety.

Over the last 30 years, the going has been tough for independent shopkeepers on the nation’s High Streets. Contending with large supermarkets has proven challenging at the best of times for the Crumps but the business continues to thrive.

“Over the years there has been a massive decline in independent butchers. And our actual trade pattern has changed dramatically but we go with the flow. You always get competition from supermarkets. You’ve only got to look at the High Streets, so many shops are closed, it’s frightening. But we are supplying something different from supermarkets – we have the quality. Our goal is to continue to do what we’re doing, improve and increase trade. There is a place for shops like ours on the High Street. That’s what has stood us in good stead for 30 years.”

“Above all, we would love to thank all our loyal customers both past and present” concludes Andy.

High Streets across the UK would not be the same without the independent, family owned retailers that continue to trade, like Crumps but they need continued support from the local communities to ensure their survival. Crumps is a true gem of a family firm, quintessentially Briitsh and putting the customer first. Passion and belief in the quality of their products, not to mention innovations such as the Bassett Banger have helped, and hopefully we will continue to see them in Wootton Bassett for generations to come.

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