Axminster butcher proves the cattle men wrong

PUBLISHED: 09:00 26 February 2014 | UPDATED: 09:00 26 February 2014

Shaun Vining outside his first Complete Meats shop in Axminster, opened 25 years ago. Photo by Chris Carson

Shaun Vining outside his first Complete Meats shop in Axminster, opened 25 years ago. Photo by Chris Carson

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Complete Meats founder celebrates 25 years in business and announces further expansion plans

When Shaun Vining opened his first butcher’s shop in Axminster it was the day of the annual fatstock show - and farmers in the cattle market opposite were heard taking bets about how long his business would last.

Now, 25 years later, he has two more shops in Honiton and Chard, a bakery, an EC licensed cutting plant at Millwey Rise and employs 60 staff.

And there are plans for more expansion as the company celebrates a quarter of a century of successful trading.

Mr Vining started in the meat industry as a youngster, first helping out in his uncle’s business in Somerset, before securing a Saturday job.

Deciding that a career in the meat industry was for him, he gained a place at the Smithfield College, learning the technical side of the trade.

In 1989, after jobs in various sectors in the UK and abroad, he decided the time was right to have a go himself and took the lease on his first shop in South Street, Axminster.

He opened on the day of the Christmas fatstock show and recalls hearing farmers betting on how long he would last.

“Twenty-five years later I am still here but the market is now gone,” he said.

“When I took the lease I felt there was a good chance that I could build the retail side of the business up and then be in a position to start supplying the local catering sector.

“It has been hard work and lots of hours. Over the last 25 years I have invested everything back into the business, opening my second shop just before foot and mouth hit. This was a scary time but we pulled through. Now I have three shops - Chard, Axminster and Honiton - a bakery and an EC licensed cutting plant and employ 60 staff.

“I started going to the product competitions many years ago this gave me a chance to benchmark our products against what the experts and judges say. We had success early on with Gold Awards but I wanted to really be able to shout about my products by winning not just a category but best overall product. I really listened to the judge’s comments - it turned out it is very often only one point that makes the difference and 99 out of a 100 is not good enough.

“Last year I was invited to be a judge myself at the launch of British Sausage Week in Smithfield Market in London which was a real honour.

“We are continuing to expand our factory unit in Axminster so that we can offer other products in the future, as well as launch a new online shop to enable nationwide delivery.”

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