R&J enters new era

NARG-11-11-11 R and J Atkinson
NARG-11-11-11 R and J Atkinson

Farmers and butchers R&J of Kirkby Malzeard, north of Ripon, are on track to complete an investment project of more than £250,000 early in the new year.

It will double the size of the company’s 5,000ft sq EU-approved Longswales Lane meat production unit and forms part of a major rebranding programme, the most extensive in the firm’s 33-year history.

The rebranding incorporates a new trading name, R&J - Yorkshire’s Finest Farmers & Butchers, as well as a new company logo, newly-liveried delivery vehicles and a new website.

Improved packaging techniques and new products have also been introduced, headed by R&J’s Waterford House Farm signature range of high-end meat products.

“We are entering a brand-new era with an altogether sharper identity and a much clearer and defined focus on where we are going as a business,” said general manager Ryan Atkinson, son of husband-and wife founders Robert and Jo Atkinson, who established R&J Catering Butchers on the family farm in 1978.

One of the few catering butchers in the country to maintain its own herd of cattle, R&J began in a converted barn on the family farm by supplying meat to friends and neighbours.

The company has grown and diversified to become one of the leading suppliers of meat products to the northern hospitality sector, including to some of the region’s leading restaurants and top chefs. It supplements its home-reared beef with other prime meat, poultry and game products supplied through a co-operative of local farmers and estates.

Robert and Jo remain fully involved with the business as chairman and company secretary respectively, and were joined by 27-year-old Ryan in 2003.

Jo said: “Since Ryan joined the team, business has truly boomed. His enthusiasm, energy and rapport with the chefs at leading restaurants across the region has taken R&J into a whole new era.

“We are proud of him and our business can only go from strength to strength.”

The company has recruited five new employees this year and the workforce currently stands at 18 strong.

“We are confident of creating more new jobs and providing a further boost to the regional economy, as our planned and carefully controlled programme of expansion and development continues,” added Ryan.