Why we should all SHOP LOCAL
Berkshire Life|July 2020
If the coronavirus has taught us anything, it’s that we need to create a new local supply chain, focussing on quality products on our doorstep. Sarah Rodi spoke to Founder of the Honesty Group, Romilla Arber
Romilla Arber

You only have to recall the panic in the supermarkets during the early weeks of the pandemic, with the shelves looking scarily bare, to see our food supply chain was breaking down.

Never has it been more clear that we need to create a local supply chain, where consumers are less fussed about having access to every single item all of the time, but instead focussed on quality produce that is on their doorstep.

The hospitality industry has been hit especially hard during this pandemic, but some of our local businesses have put aside their own struggles to continue doing everything they can to support their community.

The Honesty Group is a true example of this. Owner Romilla Arber says: “It has been, without a doubt, the most challenging time we’ve had at Honesty Group. We are hugely grateful to the community for their continued support whilst we adapted the business to try to serve them better during this unsettling and uncertain time.”

The Honesty Group converted their Inkpen coffee shop at the Crown & Garter into a general food store to support the community and launched a contactless doorstep delivery service for the elderly and those in isolation.

“Inkpen has blossomed during lockdown,” says Romilla.

“Saddleback Farm Shop also converted into a delivery service for the community. We were glad to bring some light relief to some dark days with our VE Day celebration boxes. Adapting the business from what we normally do has been rewarding and we’ve come away brimming with ideas for the future.

“We really have used this time to go down deep into the business to use every aspect of it. We’ve been able to focus on where our food comes from, we’ve spent time looking at the structure and any issues, and also essential purchasing. We’ve also spent time training staff and embracing a better website for online purchasing.

“However, being closed for so long has put a huge financial strain on the business so we’re looking forward to re-opening stronger than ever before.”

In light of the recent Government guidelines, the Honesty Group are now further able to open all of their coffee shops except Honesty Bucklebury, Honesty Houghton Lodge and Honesty at Herongate Club, serving coffees, freshly baked bread and pastries and light lunch options to takeaway. Strict social distancing and hygiene measures will be put in place across the board to ensure both customers and staff are safe.

Honesty Group hope to re-open for both dine-in and takeaway from 4 July, with physical distancing measures in place, subject to government advice.

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