: The family trio at the helm of R&J – Ryan, Jo and Robert AtkinsonR&J Catering Butchers, one of the north of England’s leading breeders and suppliers of meat products to the Yorkshire-wide hospitality sector, has given itself a complete makeover through a major rebranding programme ’ the most extensive in the firm’s 33-year history.
The company, based in Kirkby Malzeard, north of Ripon - and one of few catering butchers in the country to maintain its own herd of cattle - has launched a new name, a new image and a new signature range of high-end products.
’We are entering a brand-new era with an altogether sharper identity and a much clearer and defined focus on where we are going as a business,’ explained general manager Ryan Atkinson, son of the founders, husband-and wife Robert and Jo Atkinson, who established R&J Catering Butchers on the family farm in 1978.
Ryan explained: ’Gone is ’catering’ from the company name ’ the term no longer properly conveys the nature of our business - to be replaced with the title ’R&J -Yorkshire’s Finest Farmers & Butchers.’
"We have introduced a new logo featuring a white rose - a fitting emblem of our Yorkshire roots, a unique livery for our fleet of delivery vehicles, stylish uniforms and PR training for our ’ambassadors behind the steering wheel,’ a new user-friendly website, along with new packaging techniques and new products joining the familiar staples."
The business has unveiled its Waterford House Farm brand, a new signature range of high-end meat products.
Robert Atkinson commented: ’It conveys the importance we place on the quality and flavour of prime beef straight from our own pastures, supplemented by other prime meat, poultry and game products supplied through our co-operative members.
’These are local farmers and estates ’ most within 15 miles of our headquarters ’ who we have worked in partnership with since our formation, all chosen for their focus on taste, free grazing and animal welfare.
’It is a measure of the value we place on the quality of our signature range that every Waterford House Farm packet is stamped with the name of our own home. It is produced to a standard we have evolved over more than three decades. No government-defined standard comes close.
’Moreover, R&J is virtually unique in taking delivery of our signature range meats in carcass form. The meat is hung on the bone for a finely tuned length of time ’ a minimum of 30 days - in order to properly mature and develop the rich flavour our customers have grown to expect,’ Robert emphasised.
From humble beginnings in a converted barn, the business has grown and diversified beyond recognition to become one of the north’s principal suppliers of meat products to pubs, hotels and restaurants across the north, among them some of the region’s leading restaurants and top chefs.
Robert and Jo are still fully involved with the business as chairman and company secretary respectively, joined by their 27-year-old son Ryan in 2003. He has worked his way up to become general manager, freeing up more time for his parents to focus on the farming side of the business, producing more livestock for R&J.
Jo Atkinson said: ’Since Ryan joined the team, business has truly boomed. His enthusiasm, energy and rapport with the chefs at leading restaurants across the region has taken R&J into a whole new era. We are proud of him and our business can only go from strength to strength.’
This year, R&J embarked on a ’250,000-plus investment project to double the size of its 5,000 sq ft EU-approved Longswales Lane meat production unit, a project due for completion early in 2012.
The company has taken on five new employees this year and the workforce currently stands at 18-strong. ’We are confident of creating more new jobs and providing a further boost to the regional economy, as our planned and carefully controlled programme of expansion and development continues,’ added Ryan.
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