By Mick Jensen
Trading might have looked uncertain when lockdown restrictions started, but Netherby Meats is now going great guns and an online sales platform is keeping nine staff members in full time employment.
Demand is so great that business owner Mike Hanson is considering taking on more people to help with deliveries and other jobs.
“For the first couple of weeks we didn’t really know what we were allowed to do – we were open, then closed and then open again,” said Mr Hanson.
Staff were working five to 10 hours a week and he was wondering what the future held.
He had applied for the Government’s wage subsidy and things were not looking too great.
“I found myself stuck with $20,000 worth of meat that I’d ordered before lockdown and thought I’d be allowed to sell.
“I wasn’t sure what to do with it. But then the story was shared on television and countless offers came in from people wanting to buy it.”
Those buying it had donated the meat to Ronald McDonald House, the Salvation Army and other causes, “which was quite amazing really”.
Mr Hanson said the meat had been snapped up in just two days.
Netherby Meat started offering online sales on April 6, with the first delivery three days later.
On day one there were 150 orders, and 100 on day two.
Sales had continued to be brisk, said Mr Hanson, and all of his staff were busy working full days.
“Customers are happy to order online.
“They tick the items they want, pay online and then we deliver.”
Mr Hanson said local orders were delivered by his staff and a courier had been used for orders received from Timaru, Geraldine and Christchurch.
He had put the time into developing the online sales platform, but it was “paying off big time”.
“I will keep it up and running post-lockdown, because people are getting used to it and it is a convenient way for some to shop.”
Netherby Meats has also been operating a mobile abattoir, and there has been good demand from local farmers.
Mr Hanson was still looking forward to restrictions being lifted and his shop reopening but believed under alert level 3 the shop would remain closed, which would be disappointing but something he had to accept.