Smokehouse bosses reveal how they survived lockdown

Phil Hartshorne and wife Fran at the Staithe Smokehouse. Picture: Phil Hartshorne

Phil Hartshorne and wife Fran at the Staithe Smokehouse. Picture: Phil Hartshorne - Credit: Archant

A traditional smokehouse in north Norfolk has had to change the way it trades to survive during lockdown.

The Staithe Smokehouse has changed its way of working during lockdown. Pictures: supplied by Phil Ha

The Staithe Smokehouse has changed its way of working during lockdown. Pictures: supplied by Phil Hartshorne - Credit: Archant

The Staithe Smokehouse in Brancaster Staithe, which smokes Scottish salmon, kippers, cod and shell-on prawns, now offers a delivery service across Norfolk.

Run by Phil Hartshorne and his wife, the artisan fish smokehouse, which is located at the rear of the White Horse pub, uses traditional techniques to oak smoke fish.

Before the coronavirus outbreak, they supplied around 20 local hotels, restaurants and delis, from the Hoste Arms and No Twenty 9 in Burnham Market to the White Horse and the Neptune in Old Hunstanton.

Mr Hartshorne said: “We dropped off our last wholesale delivery on the day the government called for pubs and restaurants to be closed. Over that weekend we had to decide how we would survive.

The Staithe Smokehouse has changed its way of working during lockdown. Pictures: supplied by Phil Ha

The Staithe Smokehouse has changed its way of working during lockdown. Pictures: supplied by Phil Hartshorne - Credit: Archant

“We went from 21 wholesale customers to one, footfall to our shop went to zero and we lost all the markets we were booked to attend.

“Delivery was something we had thought of trying, but now rely on. We advertised on social media and our website and Google, and went from there.

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“We had to come up with new ideas on how to present our smoked fish. We approached some Instagram sites for promotion and then everything changed.

“Local businesses and producers were becoming the little British battlers. New sites were made to promote Norfolk businesses for free on-line, local Facebook pages were developed and, suddenly, orders came in.

The Staithe Smokehouse has changed its way of working during lockdown. Pictures: supplied by Phil Ha

The Staithe Smokehouse has changed its way of working during lockdown. Pictures: supplied by Phil Hartshorne - Credit: Archant

“Gloves on and masked up, we have found places we never knew existed. We have delivered our smoked fish through windows, letter boxes, front door steps and hidden boxes.

“We have also been extremely lucky to supply The Village Van in Edgefield, which sells our smoked fish and meat, sausage rolls, milk fruit and vegetables, etc.”

“So finally, foot traffic is slowly picking up at our shop, but there’s still no wholesale bar the fishmongers in Holt and The Village Van.

“With the reopening of pubs, this will help us tremendously as our sales will hopefully pick up and also traffic to our shop.”

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