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A cut above the rest – Dennis’ Butchery beginning

Members of the Dennis Family have been butchers for over a hundred years, so every steak sausage and joint has been approved with the benefit of years of knowledge and skill. John Dennis explains how all this experience makes for meat that’s a cut above the rest.

Our Beginings

My grandfather, Archie Dennis, had a butcher’s shop in Braunton since long before the First World War. He was known for his excellent sausages and took pride in providing the best meat he could. In fact, he used to buy animals in before they were due for slaughter and graze them for a few weeks to ensure they were of the best quality.

The Dennis Family gathered around the butchers shop

Three of Archie’s brothers were butchers, and their uncle, Sidney, had a shop in Morthoe. The need to sell good food must be in the genes!

The War Years

My father, Philip Dennis, worked in Archie’s shop until World War Two.

When he returned home in 1946 he started his own farming business. Over time he produced pork, turkeys and hens’ eggs, and built up a successful business delivering to hotels in Woolacombe.

Philip was quite innovative in his approach and was always anxious to produce a quality product.

He produced his pigs using what was known as the ‘Danish method’ which was new to the South West, and turkeys were relatively unknown in this country when he first reared them.

Brand Values

Fast, reliable delivery was key to my father’s business even then.

He did well because the Woolacombe hoteliers had never had a regular, local supply of such a good product. This is still vital to our customers today – we can get a huge range of quality food to them quickly and conveniently. Giving our customers what they want has been very important over the years.

In 1977 I returned from university and joined my father in business.

Of course, I’d been involved before then, hand-plucking turkeys during the Christmas rush and helping with deliveries. I liked working with him and liked the motivation of being self-employed.

Plucking Turkeys and working with women

Frozen in Time

At this time, I could see that our customers had a growing need for frozen food, which was quite new then.

We started supplying it to our customers, and as it was my idea I was determined to make it work! Thankfully, it proved very popular, and by the mid-eighties we’d outgrown our premises and moved to much larger ones. We’ve expanded a few more times since.

One of the very first Phillip Dennis Lorries

As time progressed and our customers’ needs changed we added fresh meat and fish, chilled foods and cooking ingredients to our range.

From the Ground Up

Today, many of our customers want top-quality ingredients so they can make their own dishes from scratch, so we provide it for them.

Indeed, last year we developed a dedicated ‘Scratch Ingredients’ range, specifically to provide caterers with new ingredients so that they can more efficiently create stand-out, personalised dishes. In the eighties, when pubs and cafés were just starting to provide meals, they wanted convenient, frozen products, and we listened to them then, too.

A Family Business

We still have family members actively involved in the running of the business, including my son, Peter, who joined the Board of Directors in 2017 to oversee various initiatives.

Yet although that now makes us a fourth-generation business, we’ve the benefit of other, highly experienced people, too. Our Managing Director, Stephen Carr, comes from a local farming family and has played a central role to our success for over twenty five years, and our Director, Nigel Yeo, brought years of experience in running his large family butchers to us. I’m proud to have a business run by a collective of highly passionate, dedicated people who work well together towards our aim of service excellence.

It’s that collective experience that’s shaped Dennis Family Butchers into what it is today. We know about top-quality meat and couldn’t bear to sell our customers anything else – my ancestors would turn in their graves!

I still try to maintain my father Philip’s high standards of meeting customers’ expectations and providing value for money. I know it’s in Nigel’s blood to only ever accept the highest of standards too.

My grandfather would be proud of where his early business led to, and he’d probably still recognise much of what goes on in the butchery department. In some ways, the principles of providing top-quality meat hasn’t really changed that much.

I very much now leave Dennis Family Butchers in the superbly capable hands of Nigel Yeo. Be sure to take the opportunity to meet them at our exhibitions, request a tour of the premises and take a look around the rest of our website and blog to find out their latest developments and products.


Remember, our Butchery Development Managers are also here to support you. Your local Telesales team will put you in touch.

Dennis family butchers

Author: Philip Dennis Food Service
Philip Dennis pride themselves on their passionate and personal foodservice and business support. We regularly produce blogs to ensure our customers can make the most out of this season's produce and food trends.

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