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Famous Arbroath Butcher Shop Set to Close

A butcher’s shop which has operated in Arbroath for almost a century will close this October.

Fleming Butchers in West Port was established in 1925 and at one point in its long history employed 40 staff.  It was renowned for its steak and gravy pie.

After being run by several generations of the Fleming family, it was acquired in 2014 by farmer Guthrie Batchelor.

As well as the retail unit, the butcher supplies many restaurants in Angus and Dundee.

The 15 staff currently employed by the business have been informed of the decision to shut.

Mr Batchelor said the rising prices and the cost-of-lining crisis were among the reasons for the closure.

He said: “Pretty much everything is soaring in cost.  As an example, we make all our pastry from scratch and pastry marge and lard has doubled in price.

“Everything we buy is increasing in price and we are finding it harder to pass that on to the wholesale (hospitality) customers.  We basically can’t compete with the supermarkets is the bottom line.

“Since the cost-of-living crisis hit in March sales in the shop have also been down.”

Mr Batchelor who has a farm near Friockheim said it was very difficult informing staff that the business will close on October 22.

A four-week consultation period is under way.

He said: “The staff have been made fully aware of what’s going on and we’re giving them plenty of time to find something else.

“It is sad.  We’ve got a really good team and it’s been most difficult informing the staff.

“It’s not something we want to do but we have decided to act now while the business is still in a good state.”

Mr Batchelor said he was not considering selling the business as the Fleming family took six years to sell it previously.

“I don’t want that uncertainty,” he said.  “But if anyone is interested I’m open to offers.”

Charles Fleming opened a butcher’s shop in Millgate Loan, Arbroath, in 1925.

It moved to West Port when the local authority bought the land for flats.

The family then opened a second shop in Ponderlaw Street.  The two shops were run by Charles’ sons Gregory and Bill – who died earlier this year aged 92.

It was within the Ponderlaw store the now famous steak and gravy pie was born.  As a result of the pie’s success Bill had a large bakery built at the back of the West Port shop.

They began supplying now defunct supermarket William Low and that contract was taken over by Tesco when it purchased Low’s.  The Ponderlaw shop closed five years ago.

Meanwhile, the West Port premises expanded into the taxi office next door.

Mr Batchelor added: “It’s been good fun for the past eight years.  We’ve had great staff and customers.”

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