Work starts on site as Keelham Farm Shop sets the foundations for Skipton
The Bradford-based family-run business, which secured planning permission in December 2013, recently secured £210,000 funding from North Yorkshire LEP and is forging ahead with plans for the new shop, having already secured the backing of NatWest. Keelham Farm Shop, Skipton is part of a longer-term plan to expand the business to other locations in Yorkshire.
The £4 million Skipton development will create 67 new jobs, 21 of which are through the expansion of the food preparation side of the business using capital from the Business Grant Programme, which is funded by the Government’s Regional Growth Fund and delivered by North Yorkshire LEP, which will help the company to expand its range of own-brand products.
Keelham Farm Shop, Skipton will be a development of the successful business model evolved by third generation Robertshaws, siblings Victoria and James, that puts affordable, great-tasting food at its heart. The original Thornton site is supplied by over 400 local farmers and producers and sells quality meat sourced weekly from local auction marts, as well as lambs from its family-run farm in Cowling. The team will actively be searching for new suppliers that are local to Skipton, as 75% of what Keelham sells is fresh produce, in contrast with most supermarkets which sell 25% fresh food.
Far more than a shop, Keelham’s ethical ethos directs an ambitious programme of events and activities designed to encourage the public to eat healthily and to produce food sustainably. The pioneering retail venue will feature a number of innovations including a ‘living wall’ of herbs and an activity barn, alongside the shop’s fresh food, bakery, delicatessen and long-established butchery offering, making Keelham Farm Shop, Skipton a visitor destination in its own right.
The contractors have undertaken remediation work at the site – which was previously a garage – excavating the soil ready for the shop retrofit. The existing framework will provide a skeleton for the new shop, which will be completely repurposed and will include a number of eco-friendly elements such as photovoltaic solar panels and a sedum roof.
Comments Victoria Robertshaw: “The team have been working for a long time on the detailed plans for Skipton and it’s fantastic finally to see the spade hit the ground. We’ve had so much support from the local community, as well as farmers and producers here, who can’t wait to have a Keelham right on their doorstep. We had hoped to have the shop open by Christmas, but the build schedule was put back until we had the final funding in place. We took the decision not to rush the opening, but to focus on getting the build and landscaping finished by December – and then unveil our new shop and new offering to the public in the New Year. This allows us to train the Skipton team in our Thornton shop over Christmas – our busiest period – offering the perfect opportunity to embed the new team in the Keelham way, developing their product knowledge and customer service skills.
“We’ve earmarked the 15th January as our official opening date as it’s the anniversary of the death of our dad who passed away unexpectedly, and who founded the farm shop back in the early seventies. He always felt that he had created a model which could be rolled out across the region – and it is important for us to see his legacy come to life on this day.”
Gary Smith, Relationship Director at NatWest, said: "I was delighted to support Keelham Farm Shop and the development of the second site. It's a great business that supports local farmers and other enterprises in the region, and I wish the business every success for the future."
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