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It’s back to the future for butcher at market
A HISTORIC family butchers is returning to the site where it opened its first shop almost 220 years ago.
A new branch of the Meatmaster cash and carry will be set up in Oxford’s Covered Market, bringing the butchery business of the Alden family back to its spiritual home where it was established in about 1793.
The move represents a major expansion for managing director Matthew Alden who set up Meatmaster on the Osney Mead industrial estate in 2006 primarily as a butcher for the catering trade.
He explained: “We originally envisaged the business selling bulk items to the catering trade, but from day one there were more public sales and now they account for 99 per cent of the trade.
“So we are going back into the market purely as a retailer.
“It feels fantastic to be going back to the same shop occupied by my ancestor, Isaac Alden, in the 18th century.”
The new Meatmaster, will take up two thirds of the existing Haymans Fisheries shop run by Mr Alden’s father, Richard, when it opens in August following a £200,000 investment. The existing premises in Osney Mead will continue and help supply the new outlet, while the Haymans fish market cash and carry business which opened nearby in 2010, will trade as normal.
Mr Alden is the sixth generation of the family to run a butchery business in the city and is bringing it back to the Covered Market after it pulled out in 1999 to establish its Osney Mead base.
Meatmaster currently turns over £32,000 a week.
Mr Alden admitted the recent problems of market traders caused by ongoing rent reviews and declining trade were a challenge.
But he said he is confident of success.
He will be targeting trade from office workers and students looking for ready meals, as well as the traditional customer base.
Mr Alden added: “We know we have got a good product here and I believe this is a wonderful opportunity to bring customers back to the market.
He said that seven jobs were being created as a result of the expansion, bringing the workforce to 52.
That compares to less than 20 who worked at the business a decade ago.
“We have invested £1m in the last 10 years and we have got to keep investing,” he said.