With the number of farm shops in the UK on the rise, we asked Tom Newey, CEO of Cobbs Farm Shops what it takes to run a successful farm shop. Cobbs currently operate seven destination led farm shops in England with a focus and passion for supporting the smaller, local and regional producers.
What trends are you seeing in consumer shopping patterns?
Like many others we’re seeing a huge focus on customer actively wanting to reduce single-use packaging. The engagement has been brilliant and as a result we’ve a few new initiatives – from gravity dispensers to customers getting rewarded for using their own containers on our butchery. This has to be a positive and we’ll do what we can to continue to encourage that behaviour. The demographic continues to shift as well and we continue to see more and more younger shoppers using enjoying our offer.
What do you look for when stocking a new brand in the farm shop?
Quality and provenance come first and foremost with any stocking decision but we’re also equally interested in the people behind it. Shops like us thrive on stories and being able to share with our customers a unique nature of a product. To that end, we expect our producers to come and launch products with tastings as well as come back and host a series of other promo activities over the year. We also encourage them to provide engaging and easy to display point of sale material. Products can all too easily be lost on a shelf and the more they can do to make it stand out, the better.
How do you keep consumers coming back and encouraging loyalty?
Loyalty is a huge part of our success and it comes down to a number of things. Our staff play such a key role here – going above and beyond to ensure customers really enjoy their experience with us is key. I’d also like to think we’re never afraid of trying new things and evolving – even when it doesn’t work!
Whats your favourite part about running Cobbs Farm Shop?
With such a diverse business involving everything from a vineyard and soft fruit farm to indoor playbarns and our shops and cafes, there is always something different to focus on. The variation, especially for someone like me who gets bored easily, is incredible!
Whats next for you and the Cobbs team?
Having launched our new site, Cobbs at Englefield earlier this year we are now actively looking at finding a new site with a couple of options currently being explored. In terms of the current sites, we will continue to invest and add complimentary additions wherever possible as well as drive our ever expanding butchery and production kitchen sides of the business.