Traditional butcher gives shopfront the chop

Posted by James Ferre on 10th June 2009

In 1854, Ike Hill took a job as a ‘Butcherboy’ on a convict ship bound for Australia. Since then the Hill family has been involved in butcher retailing and lamb exporting and wholesaling, trading under the name of “Hills of Darling” throughout most of the 80s and 90s. Now, 5th generation family member, Nick Hill, has decided to change the way meat is typically sold.

Butcherboy

Research shows that of the 70% of people that buy their meat at supermarkets, most do so due to convenience even though they are not convinced by the quality. After hearing similar stories from friends, Hill decided to do something about it and, as a result, butcherboy.com.au was launched; a direct play on his great great grandfather’s job title.

Mr Hill has joined forces with old school mate and ex-Boost Juice CEO Simon McNamara. The combination came about after a meeting at a high school reunion.

“I started telling Simon about my plans for Butcherboy and he seemed to have a genuine interest about it,” Hill recalled. “I could tell he believed in the business plan.”

“We knew each other’s backgrounds and areas of experience. They couldn’t be any different, but this was the perfect balance,” McNamara added.

Hill is a 5th generation butcher that knows everything about meat and operations, whilst McNamara started up Viva Juice and later became CEO of Boost Juice and understands what it takes to grow a small business.

The business is seeking to tap into the convenience trend via the internet, something which most food retailers have yet to trial or carry out effectively. The potential for growth in online food sales has been shown in the UK but Australian firms have typically been more reluctant to capitalise on new technology.

Butcherboy believes that, with the ability to undercut supermarkets on price in many cases and the high quality provided by ageing their beef and lamb products to optimise tenderness and taste, they can make an impact in the fresh food arena – especially given they are offering the convenience of free home delivery (mainly in the evening).

“People told us that their preference is for an evening delivery as this is when they are more likely to be at home,” Hill noted.

The major challenge will be converting people to ordering online, something Australians have been reluctant to do with fresh food. In response Hill has ensured that the website is very simple and safe to use.

“Time will tell, but so far the feedback from those that have tried us is very positive so this gives us the confidence to press ahead,” he said.