Mark Farnsworth, who is also owner of William’s Farm Kitchen at Hornsea and Sledmere in East Yorkshire, and formerly of GSK and Nestle, said garden centre owners should not worry about introducing meat to their offer.
The Tong centre in Bradford has a William's Farm Kitchen near the front of the centre with butchery and bakery behind it.
Farnsworth, who took over the centre in 2015 with business partner Tom Megginson, said: "On meat we can be as competitive as supermarkets, if not more so. We offer 3/£10 packs which is in line with supermarkets and we can guarantee British products produced properly. We go beyond supermarkets on products like sausages, with meat content far superior.
"In the past we’ve done price comparisons with Tesco. The reality is customers buy meat from supermarkets but we have to take them on and we can and still make margin. Our supply chain is very tight but supermarkets have a processor, RDC, cold stores, packhouses and we have to play on that simplicity of supply chain we have."
He added: "We have a cafe and a restaurant. I wouldn’t go into it without that back up. The customer might get lucky and get roast sirloin of beef but you still make more on it. You have to have the skills but I don’t think there’s too much to worry about."
He said: "On biscuits and jams we can’t compete on price but we’re in a different league in terms of product and we have to convince the shopper they’re paying extra but the taste and quality is worth it."
See feature on Tong in Horticulture Week next issue.