When Charles Nicholson opened his butcher’s shop in Whitley Bay during World War One, his goal of serving quality meat to his customers became a reality which has continued through four family generations leading to a national retailing award for the latest family member to take over the reins.
Now, at the head of the 108-year-old business is Charles’ great granddaughter Kathryn Meadows who jointly runs Nicholson’s Butchers in the town’s Park View with her semi-retired father.
Kathryn’s passion for her family business started as a young girl when she helped in the shop with her grandad and father. As well as learning about the meat trade, she gained a good understanding of the shop’s customers and the quality of food that they expected. After gaining a degree in food science and working for several large food manufacturing businesses, Kathryn returned to the family business around nine years ago to help her father with the management and running of the shop.
Wherever possible, every meat product is locally sourced and Kathryn’s father Doug regularly visits cattle and sheep farms in Northumberland to ensure that the animals are well looked after, and that the quality of the meat is of premium grade. Many of Nicholson’s suppliers are the same farms and firms that Charles created relationships with when he started the business in 1914, something that Kathryn holds dear to her heart.
“Sourcing local good quality meat is very important to our business. We know where each cut of meat comes from, and we also know the history of the animal. Local is good for quality and the environment too, “she said.” We also offer something different to the supermarkets with a huge selection of speciality pies, cooked meats and the expertise to answer our customer’s questions.”
Her dedication to the retail side of the business has won Kathryn a prestigious national industry award. The Women in Meat Industry Awards are designed to recognise the vitally important contributions that women make to the meat sector. Kathryn was the winner of the 2021 Meat Businesswoman – Retailing.
“I was delighted to win the award which is a credit to our history and the 15 staff who currently work with us. Traditionally women didn’t have important roles in the meat sector, but I’m pleased to say that this is changing and that can only be a good thing. It’s a very rewarding career but it’s also hard, physical work that many people never get to see behind the scenes.”
Her position in the meat industry has been further enhanced by her appointment as vice chair of the Q Guild of Butchers and in business in general as a member of The Alternative Board (TAB) and the North Tyneside Business Forum Management Group.
“It’s important that I keep up to date with business trends and information so that I can come up with ways to grow our business,” she said.
Indeed, Kathryn has plans to further enhance the business including expanding her local delivery service to a national basis and looking at a more efficient use of space in the shop by investing in smaller, better machinery.
“My overall goal is to keep the family business going and to make sure that I do just as good a job as all of my three predecessors. If my great grandfather could see me now, I’d hope he would be very proud of how his family has kept his name going and left the business in a good retail position.”