Cotswold Fayre is a Business Reporter client.
Cotswold Fayre launched in the late 90s, when Paul Hargreaves was made aware of the challenges independent retailers faced when sourcing the growing range and variety of British speciality food and drink. Huge amounts of time were wasted buying products from too many suppliers, and there was a clear need for a “one order, one delivery, one invoice” solution which would significantly reduce the administrative burden on these new growing stores, and enable them to stock a much wider range of interesting artisanal food products. Cotswold Fayre was born, that need remains, and 24 years later the company supplies more than 2,000 food retailers across the UK with more than 4,000 products.
The business model of consolidating numerous small brands is inherently less carbon intensive, and this is one of the main factors motivating Cotswold Fayre as it grows further. The business has a clear carbon reduction plan to reach Net Zero by 2030 – until then, it will offset all its carbon, as well as encouraging its 400 suppliers to follow suit.
Cotswold Fayre is now the leading carbon neutral wholesaler of speciality foods to independent food retailers in the UK. It supplies most of the best food stores in the UK and attracts many of the best new food brands, working in collaboration with them to improve sustainability throughout the supply chain. Customers include farm shops, delicatessens, garden centres, food halls, high street shops and a small percentage of mainstream retail. Cotswold Fayre’s impact over the past two decades has raised the bar, with consumers all over the UK buying and eating better-quality food now than when the company was founded in 1999.
Over the past two years the company’s growth has been spectacular, as retailers consolidate more, and consumers shop for better food more locally. This trend accelerated during the Covid pandemic, when Cotswold Fayre was a vital link for many local retailers, keeping them stocked with food when other supply chains were breaking down.
Cotswold Fayre’s impact and influence on its suppliers has started to change the face of the wider food and drink sector. The business was one of the first UK companies to be certified as a B Corp, in 2015. Since certifying, it has run an accelerator programme to help and encourage its suppliers to become more environmentally and socially responsible. And it’s working: as of January 2023, the wholesaler is proud to have 50 suppliers who are now also certified as B Corps – more than the total UK B Corp community that existed in 2015.
In 2019, the business had the opportunity to develop its own retail and hospitality site. Flourish, situated between Bristol and Bath, finally opened in June 2021, and is a great example of vertical integration. Cotswold Fayre’s social and environmental values are more clearly expressed in a consumer-facing business that’s both an exemplar of good practice, and provides a showcase for many of the company’s brands.
Future plans include growing the influence and range of the wholesale business with the addition of new categories such as frozen and home and lifestyle, and there are plans to open two further retail sites in the next few years.