HISTORIC Oxford butchers firm Aldens has been given a massive boost during the coronavirus crisis after striking a deal with the Co-op to supply 40 of its stores in the region.

The Midcounties Co-operative has now agreed a contract with Aldens for it to supply lamb, pork and chicken across all Midcounties stores in the Cotswolds area from March 30.

The butchers ran Haymans fishmongers at Oxford’s Covered Market until it moved its entire operation to the Osney Mead industrial estate in 2017.

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It is among butchers and other food producers who are being backed by the Oxford Mail’s #StillopeninOxfordshire campaign.

Phil Ponsonby, chief executive of Co-op Midcounties said: “We’re delighted to have partnered with Aldens to supply the finest quality produce to our stores across the Cotswolds.

“The deal will help to supplement our existing supplies and ensure that we are able to continue to meet the significantly increased demand we’re seeing from customers across the region.

Oxford Mail:

“We’re particularly pleased to be able to support a local business with such an outstanding heritage.

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"Since the coronavirus outbreak began, we’ve increased the number of local suppliers we work with and are now partnered with over 200 local businesses.”

Mr Ponsonby said this was to enable the business to offer additional types of products and ensure the availability of some key lines to complement the Co-op usual ranges, while allowing the co-operative to support the communities in which it operated during unprecedented times.

Aldens boss Matthew Alden said the deal had come at the right time for the firm.

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He added: “Since the government announced ‘don’t go out to bars, clubs and restaurants’ two and half weeks ago our catering business effectively stopped overnight; 85 per cent of the business was supplying hotels, restaurants, schools, pub and universities.

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“We knew the official lockdown was coming so we had to quickly refocus.

“Within three days of the lockdown announcement we launched the meatmaster.info website to for deliveries around Oxfordshire.

"It’s been very well received and we are sending out over 200 deliveries Monday-Saturday.”

Both Meatmaster and Fishmarket shops are open - Fishmarket offers same day deliveries if ordered before 12pm (to the OX1-OX5 postcodes).

There are a few catering customers still taking deliveries, including the Houses of Parliament, one of the firm’s customers.

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As a result of the crisis Aldens approached The Midcounties Co-op to see if it needed any supplies for their stores and a deal was struck.

Mr Alden added: “We are thrilled to be supplying over 40 Co-ops in Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and the Cotswolds with beef, poultry, sausages and pork.

"It was my grandfather who delivered food to homes in the Second World War – this is a different kind of war, but I feel responsible as I’m sure he did in for proudly serving the people of Oxfordshire. Aldens have survived 227 years and we are more determined than ever get to the other side.”

Oxford Mail:

Fellers butchers in the Covered Market has expanded its deliveries and is among food suppliers sending out produce, in an operation run by Bonners fruit and veg stall.