Lochalsh Butchers stepping up to the plate

Lochalsh Butchers was established as a family-run business in Kyle of Lochalsh over 40 years ago. It now operates two shops, in Kyle and Portree, and supplies meat to hotels, restaurants and other small stores right throughout Skye and Lochalsh. The business employs between 8-10 people all year round.

Challenges of 2020
“As it has been for everyone else, it’s been a dreadful year but we’ve had to try to make the best of it,” said George MacRae, who has run the business for 30 years. “We began offering a free delivery service, and that’s something we want to keep doing.

“A lot of the small shops really stepped up to the plate when they needed to. Covid-19 has shown how much small businesses in the area depend on one another.

“We supply pre-packed goods to many of these very small shops, from Glendale to Sleat, and from Staffin to Lochcarron. They all did a remarkable job. But I know that many have seen a drop off in trade as the months have gone on. They are going to need all the local help they can – once these shops are gone they don’t tend to come back.”

Changing trends
There has been a shift from over the counter sales, to online and phone orders, home deliveries and to the wholesale side of the business, says George.

He adds: “As we supply several restaurants, we depend on tourism too. The UK markets helped, but when the major areas of population went to tier three and above, that was the end of it for this year.”

Hopes for 2021
“I’d like to see some major investment in the infrastructure,” says George. “I travel a lot on the local roads and they are in a sorry state. And here in Kyle businesses are losing out due to a lack of parking in the village. That really needs to be addressed.

“Thankfully there has been Government support for businesses to get through – and to get some breathing space. Hopefully by next spring we will see some kind of visitor trade going again. I also hope smaller shops will continue to keep their customers and that all their new customers, who have come to rely on them due to the pandemic, will stick with them.
“We appreciate all the support and wish all our customers a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year.”