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Setting up a Butcher’s Shop

All you need to know about starting and running your business

Business guides » Setting up a Butcher’s Shop

What is a Butcher’s Shop?

The number of butcher’s shops in the UK has declined by a huge 60% in the last 25 years. A butcher’s shop is a specialised shop that sells different cuts of meat from different animals. Butcher’s shops typically sell poultry, beef, pork, lamb and seafood.

The meat sold can be raw, semi-cooked or ready to eat. Butcher’s shops typically sell to the general public, rather than to restaurants or other retail establishments.

A butcher can have different responsibilities, such as:

  • Cutting, chopping, grinding and preparing meat.
  • Weighing, pricing and packaging meat.
  • Displaying the meat products.
  • Cleaning and maintaining all tools and equipment.
  • Cleaning and maintaining food handling areas and the general area of the shop.
  • Displaying accurate allergy information and use-by dates.
  • Performing quality checks and inspections on the meat and other food products.
  • Keeping accurate records.
  • Adhering to food hygiene standards and all food safety laws and regulations.
  • Ordering stock and liaising with suppliers.
  • Taking responsibility for deliveries.
  • Safely storing the stock.
  • Serving customers.
  • Providing customers with advice on storing, preserving and cooking meat.


Butchers usually purchase larger portions of meat or cuts of animals and then cut, chop or grind these down into smaller portions. They then sell this meat to the general public, usually charging by the kilogram (kg) or by the portion.

A butcher’s shop usually sells different cuts of the same animal. For example, they will sell multiple cuts of steak, such as ribeye, sirloin and tenderloin. Some butchers also sell other food products such as bread and other baked goods and sauces or marinades to accompany the meat.

Although butchers do not require a formal education, in order to open a butcher’s shop, you will need to be highly trained and experienced. This is because you will be dealing with potentially dangerous equipment and high-risk food items. You will also need a strong knowledge of food safety and hygiene and an understanding of all the relevant laws and regulations you will need to follow.

You will also need to be safety conscious, have great hand-eye coordination and be passionate about providing high-quality meat. You will also need to have strong personal skills in order to communicate with vendors and customers and good business and organisational skills.

Types of Customers

Many of the customers who visit your butcher’s shop will be people who live in the local area. Butcher’s shops often rely on foot traffic so being located in the centre of a village, town or city can be beneficial. Alternatively, a residential location could also give you access to a large number of customers.

Because butcher’s shops can be more expensive than supermarkets, typically, butcher’s shops receive most of their business from customers who are happy to spend a little more money on higher-quality meat products. You may also receive business from customers who want to know where the meat comes from and want to shop locally and support local businesses.

Butcher’s shops usually have customers who visit them regularly. Your customers may also recommend your shop to their friends and family, helping to support your business.

As well as customers who visit your shop, you could also increase your profits by supplying meat to events. This is a great way to attract customers as you can supply a large amount of meat at one time.

Events you could target include:

  • Private events, such as weddings and parties.
  • Organised functions.
  • Business and corporate events.
  • Organised events such as festivals, fairs and music events.
  • Food markets, food fairs and farmers’ markets.
Butcher Business Cartoon
Butchers Cartoon
Butcher Cartoon

Equipment You Will Need

Your equipment is an essential part of your butcher’s shop business. Without equipment, you will not be able to run your butcher’s shop or serve your customers.

The equipment required by a butcher can be extensive and expensive. You may want to consider which of the equipment listed below needs to be purchased before you begin operating your business and which can be purchased at a later date when your business is more established, and you have begun to make a profit.

Some equipment usually required by a butcher’s shop includes:

Meat preparation equipment:

A meat mincer

You can opt for a manual or electric meat mincer. They can be used to make sausages, burgers, meatballs and minced meat. Meat mincers are available in different sizes, so consider your available space and how much meat mincing you will need to do. Prices typically range from £1,000 to £5,000, depending on the size and specification.

Meat slicers

A meat slicer allows you to slice meat much more quickly and ensure it is sliced to a standard size. You can opt for a manual or automatic slicer and choose a slicer that allows you to adjust the thickness of the slices. If you need to slice both cooked and raw meat, you will need to purchase two slicers to prevent any cross-contamination. You will also need an additional slicer for slicing chicken. Prices usually range from £600 to £1,500 per slicer.

A sausage filler

A sausage filler helps you to make a large quantity of evenly filled sausages. Most sausage fillers are hand-operated, with prices ranging from £250 to £1,500. Alternatively, you could opt for a hydraulic sausage filler, although these are significantly more expensive at approximately £7,000.

A burger press

Burgers are popular items at a butcher’s shop. A burger press helps to ensure your burgers are all a consistent size and can help you to reduce any food waste. Burger presses are easy to use and can help to save you valuable time spent creating the patties by hand. You can opt for a hand-burger press, which helps you create consistently sized burgers. These typically cost between £40 and £70. Alternatively, you can opt for a manual burger press, which is a machine that does all of the work for you, costing approximately £250.

A meat saw

A meat saw enables you to cut large pieces of meat into smaller pieces. If you are dealing with joints or meat that contains muscles or bones, you will need a meat saw to enable you to saw through. A meat saw is generally strong and resilient to reduce the pressure on you and reduce the risk of damage to the machine. Meat saws are typically sold for between £1,200 and £6,000.

A meat dicer

A meat dicer can cut meat into different shapes and forms, most commonly cubes. It can be used for different types of meat and fish and costs approximately £5,000.

A tenderiser

A tenderiser allows you to tenderise boneless meat without tearing or damaging it. It can help to soften the texture of the meat and is typically used for steak and other cuts of beef, although it can also be used on other meat. A meat tenderiser usually costs around £1,000.

A meat kneader mixer

This can be used to mix the meat with seasoning, flavours and spices. It is often used for meat products such as sausages, burgers and pie fillings. Prices usually start at £1,500 but can rise to as much as £5,000.

A large or walk-in fridge and freezer

A commercial fridge and freezer are essential for storing the meat and preventing spoilage. You will need to have separate areas within the fridge and freezer for storing different types of meat so keep this in mind when shopping around. You will also need to consider the available space you have in your shop. You should expect to pay a minimum of £1,000 per appliance, although this price will rise if you opt for larger or higher specification appliances.

Stainless steel worktops or worktables

You will use these areas for all your food preparation tasks. Your worktables should be stainless steel as this material is non-porous, meaning it is resistant to most bacteria and germs. It is also easier to clean and will help you to maintain high standards of hygiene. Stainless steel worktables can be purchased for as little as £100 per table. Worktops can be more expensive as you will likely have to pay installation costs.

Equipment sink

This sink should be used specifically for cleaning, disinfecting or storing food equipment and utensils and should not be used for handwashing. You must ensure the sink has both hot and cold running water. Depending on how big your butcher’s shop is, you may require two sinks for equipment. If you need to wash any of the food, you will also require a separate sink for this.

Other meat preparation equipment:

      • Weighing scales.
      • High-quality, commercial butcher knives.
      • Chopping boards (different coloured boards for different meat).
      • Knife racks.
      • Knife sharpeners.
      • Kitchen scissors.
      • Cutting gloves.
      • Sausage filler funnels.
      • Overwrap machines (for wrapping the meat in clingfilm).
      • Vacuum packing machines.
      • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including aprons, hair coverings or hairnets, gloves, appropriate shoes and face masks.
      • Other utensils, such as tongs, spatulas and carving forks.
      • Temperature probes (for checking the temperature of any cooked meat).


Shop equipment:

Refrigerated display cases

This is an essential requirement for your butcher’s shop as it enables you to display your meat products safely and at the correct temperature, while still ensuring customers can see all of your products. Prices typically start at £1,000 up to £3,000 depending on the size of the display case and its design.

Open display refrigerator

These differ from standard display cases as they are accessible from the front, allowing customers to access the meat themselves. You can opt for a horizontal or vertical refrigerator, depending on your available space. Prices usually range from £2,000 to £4,000.

Handwashing sinks

You will need separate handwashing facilities and cannot use the same sink for handwashing and food preparation or equipment. This sink must be exclusively used for handwashing.


This can be used to display all of your products, particularly if you sell non-meat products that don’t require refrigeration, such as bread and sauces. Your shelving should be both functional and attractive to your customers.

A cash till and Point of Sale (POS) system

This is essential for recording sales and managing the financial aspects of your shop. It is recommended that you have a payment system whereby customers can pay cash, debit card or credit card for their purchases.

A CCTV system

A CCTV system is necessary for protecting your shop from theft and burglaries. It can also help to protect you in the event of a threatening customer or an allegation against your business. A CCTV system can cost between £300 and £5,000 depending on the specification of the equipment, how many cameras you require, and the installation costs.

Cleaning equipment

Keeping all areas of your shop clean is imperative. Food preparation, cooking and storage areas are particular areas that should be cleaned regularly throughout the day, to avoid cross-contamination and the breeding of bacteria. You will likely need different cleaning materials for different parts of your shop. You may need to invest in cloths, sponges, antibacterial surface cleaners, bleach, sanitiser, dishwashing soap and a sweeping brush and mop.

Other equipment requirements:

      • A sanitising station for customers.
      • Packaging and bags for customers.
      • A waste disposal system.
      • Rubbish bins.
      • Display boards and signs.
      • Food labelling, such as for prices and allergen information.
Butcher's Shop

Typical Pricing

If you are considering starting up a butcher’s shop business, calculating the typical costs you can expect when setting up and running the business is essential.

Being aware of your expected costs can help you to determine how you will finance the business, what your price points will be, how long it will take you to begin turning a profit and what your expected annual profits will be.

Some of the costs associated with owning a butcher’s shop include:


As you can see from the list above, your equipment will be a significant expenditure. Purchasing all the equipment you require for your business will be expensive and require a high initial investment. In order to reduce your initial costs, you could look at companies and manufacturers that allow you to pay for your equipment over a pre-determined time. You can expect to pay a minimum of £100,000 for your equipment.

Your premises

Your premises is another significant expenditure you should prepare for. You will likely rent your shop, meaning you will have to incorporate your rental costs into your monthly budget. The cost of renting your shop will vary significantly depending on the size and location. Rental costs are usually calculated per square metre and can range significantly, from £500 to £15,000 per square metre annually, depending on the location.

Renovation and installation costs

You will likely need to renovate or refurbish your premises to incorporate the furniture, equipment and installations you will need. You may also want to design and decorate your shop to fit the aesthetic of your brand and make your business more attractive to customers. Renovation costs can vary, depending on the level and scale of work required.

Maintaining, repairing and replacing equipment

Repairs, maintenance and replacements are ongoing costs you will need to factor into your budget. Correctly cleaning and maintaining equipment and ensuring it is used correctly can extend its life, but repairs and replacements are still inevitable.

Food stock

In order to maximise profits, you should aim for at least a 25% return on the cost of the animal. For example, if the meat costs you £15 per kg, you will want to sell the meat for at least £18.75 per kg. The higher your return, the higher your profits will be. The cost of your food stock will vary, depending on how much meat you purchase and the variety of meat you purchase. You can often save money on wholesale meat when you buy in bulk or buy directly from the farmer.

Running costs

Running costs are the costs associated with running your butcher’s shop. Most of these costs will be paid monthly, although some will be paid quarterly or annually. Your running costs could include your overhead costs such as electricity, gas, water, petrol and council tax.


You may initially operate your business independently and then hire staff as your business grows. Any staff will need to be paid at least the national minimum wage of £9.50 per hour. You should also account for other expenses such as holiday pay, sick pay and maternity/paternity pay.


Branding can help you to establish your business’s identity and set you apart from your competition. Branding could include creating your business’s visual identity, a logo, your business name, and creating your business’s website. You can hire a professional to help you with branding or do some of the work yourself. Branding can cost between £500 and £10,000, depending on the amount of branding you require.

Marketing and advertising

This can help you to grow your business. You may require more advertising and marketing when your business first launches. It is recommended that you spend no more than 10% of your annual revenue on advertising costs.


Insurance is a vital expenditure which can help to protect you and your business from events such as an injury, customer illness or theft or damage to your equipment.
Some insurance you may choose includes:

      • Public Liability Insurance.
      • Business Contents Insurance.
      • Employers’ Liability Insurance.
      • Business Interruption Insurance.


The price of insurance can vary depending on the level of your coverage and your insurance provider. You can expect to pay between £10 and £80 per month for insurance.


You will need to pay for training courses such as food safety and hygiene. You may also opt to pay for other training such as manual handling, first aid and electrical safety. You can expect to pay approximately £20 per course per person.

Safely Running a Butcher’s Shop

Implementing safety practices in your butcher’s shop will be one of your key responsibilities. Unsafe practices can result in the cross-contamination of food, uncooked food being served and unclean food areas. Not implementing safety protocols could result in illness or food poisoning.

The equipment you will have in your butcher’s shop can also be a safety risk, with the sharp implements and the size and weight of the equipment being potentially dangerous.

All food businesses will receive a visit from the Environmental Health Office (EHO) within the first weeks or months of opening their business. The EHO will examine your food safety and hygiene practices and check whether you have the correct protocols in place. Failure to meet safety standards could result in the EHO providing you with an improvement notice. If they believe there is an immediate risk to customers, your business could be closed, a fine issued and, in serious circumstances, you could face imprisonment.

Some safety procedures you should implement in your butcher’s shop are:

Follow the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) guidelines

The HACCP principles help you to manage food safety hazards that could arise when storing, handling, preparing, cooking and serving food. You can identify potential risks and implement measures to ensure these risks are reduced or removed. You should also keep records of any actions you take in line with HACCP.

Conduct risk assessments

Although not a legal requirement for businesses with fewer than five employees, risk assessments can help to eliminate risks and ensure safe practices in your shop. As part of your risk assessments, you should:

  • Identify hazards.
  • Determine who could be at risk.
  • Evaluate any potential risks.
  • Implement relevant safety measures.
  • Record the results of the risk assessment.
  • Review the risk assessment regularly.


You should keep physical records of your risk assessments as evidence of your commitment to safe practices.

Undergo training

Although formal education is not a necessity, it can help you to ensure safer practices and give your business greater opportunities to succeed.

You have several options available to you:

  • Level 2 Diploma in Butchery.
  • Level 2 Certificate for Proficiency in Meat and Poultry Industry Skills.
  • Level 3 Diploma for Proficiency in Meat and Poultry Industry Skills.
  • A Butcher Intermediary Apprenticeship.
Butcher's Business

Keep clear and accurate records

When you are inspected by the EHO, the officer will likely request to see up-to-date records of your business’s cleaning schedules, risk assessments, health and safety policies, allergen information, and temperature checks. Keeping such records not only helps to protect your business and improve the likelihood of you receiving a higher score, but it also ensures procedures are followed at all times.

Cleaning and washing of equipment

Having effective cleaning procedures is essential to any food business. It is recommended that a cleaning schedule or cleaning policies are in place that cover the cleaning of equipment, surfaces, and the food preparation and storage areas. As part of your cleaning requirements, ensuring the personal hygiene of you and your employees and providing handwashing stations for staff and customers can also help you to safely run your business.

Safely storing stock

As part of your safety requirements, you must ensure the meat is stored at the correct temperature to prevent spoilage or deterioration. It is a legal requirement in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that chilled food must be kept at 8°C or below at all times. If chilled food is out of the fridge for more than four hours, it must be disposed of. You should also make sure cooked meat is covered at all times to prevent spoilage or deterioration.

Implement security measures

Security measures can help protect your business from potential break-ins or protect you if a customer accuses you of causing an injury or not protecting their safety. Install a CCTV system and ensure your shop is properly secured when you are not on site.

Ensure equipment is only used in line with the manufacturers’ instructions and that all safety features are correctly working

The manufacturers of the equipment and machinery you purchase will provide safety instructions with recommendations on how to correctly use the equipment. You must adhere to these at all times, You must also ensure that the equipment is regularly maintained and inspected. If the equipment comes with any safety features, such as a safety lock or catch, make sure these are active at all times.

Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Some of the PPE you may require include latex gloves, protective aprons, hair coverings and protective footwear. PPE can help to prevent cross-contamination of the food and help to protect you and your clothing.

Legal Requirements

When setting up and running your butcher’s shop, there are some legal requirements you must adhere to:

Comply with the Weights and Measures Act 1963

This Act states that businesses that sell fresh, frozen, chilled or cooked meat must comply with several legal requirements, such as:

      • Pre-packaged meat should be labelled with the net weight in metric units.
      • Non-pre-packaged meat must be sold by either net weight or gross weight.
      • Weighing scales must be accurate and approved for retail use.
      • Customers must be fully informed of the weight before they pay or receive the meat.


Comply with the Price Marking Order 2004

This order specifies several pricing guidelines you must follow:

      • All food items must have the price clearly displayed.
      • If the meat is not pre-packaged, you should list the unit price per kilogram clearly on or close by the meat.
      • If you also opt to display the price per pound (lb) of meat, this price must not be more prominent than the price per kg.
      • Cooked and ready-to-eat meat should be priced per 100g.


Comply with food labelling guidelines

There are several legal guidelines you will need to follow regarding food labelling:

      • Fresh meat: Should be clearly labelled with the type of meat, the cut (if relevant) and whether the meat has been treated with proteolytic enzymes. You must also label the food if proteins from another animal have been added or if water has been added.
      • Fresh beef and veal: Labelling must comply with the Beef and Veal Labelling Regulations 2010.
      • Fresh pork, poultry, mutton, lamb and goat: You must comply with the Country of Origin of Certain Meats Regulations 2015.
      • Cooked meat: Must be labelled with the name of the meat, the meat content, any allergens, any irradiated ingredients and any added water (more than 5%).
      • You must ensure all descriptions are accurate and are in line with the legal definition.


Implement a Food Safety Management System (FSMS)

Food businesses in the UK must implement a Food Safety Management System. An FSMS is a systematic approach to controlling food safety hazards. It ensures that your business is following safety protocols and will influence your food hygiene rating.

Obtain food hygiene training

Regulations state that all food handlers must have food hygiene training that is relevant to their job role. As the shop owner, you are required to obtain a Level 3 Food Hygiene Certificate. Any employees you hire are required to have a Level 2 Certificate.

Comply with the Food Additives, Flavourings, Enzymes and Extraction Solvents Regulations 2013

These regulations state the maximum level of additives permitted in food. You must ensure all the food you sell complies with these guidelines.

Apply for a food business registration

There is no cost associated with business registration and it is quick and easy to apply for on You must register your butcher’s shop business at least 28 days before you begin trading.

Apply for a waste carrier registration

You will need to register as a low tier waste carrier in England, Wales or Northern Ireland or a professional collector or transporter of waste in Scotland if you need to transport any waste generated from your business. The registration is free.

Ensure you have the correct number of sinks

As a food business, you will need to ensure you have separate sinks for different tasks. You will need a specific sink for cleaning and disinfecting equipment and utensils, a separate sink for handwashing, and a separate sink for washing food (if relevant). Each sink should have an adequate supply of both hot and cold water. All sinks will also need to have an operational drainage system.

Comply with the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989

The Electricity at Work Regulations state that any workplaces that use electricals must construct electrical systems in a way that prevents danger, maintain electrical systems to ensure they are safe, ensure electrical equipment is checked by a competent person annually and conduct Portable Appliance Tests (PAT). Your electricals could include your equipment.

Obtain a Gas Safety Certificate

If you are using gas to run any of your equipment, it must be inspected every year by a gas safe engineer. If your equipment is deemed safe to use and complies with government requirements, you will be issued a Gas Safety Certificate.

Comply with the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992

Manual handling regulations can help to protect you and your employees from sustaining an injury or illness as a result of manual handling tasks. The regulations apply to the lifting or moving of any objects, bending down and reaching high, and repetitive movements. Cutting the meat, carrying the deliveries and using the equipment are all classed as manual handling activities.

Comply with the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 2013

RIDDOR states that you must report all injuries, diseases and dangerous events that occur in your business. Reports must be made to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) using an appropriate recording document.

Appoint a first-aider

All workplaces in the UK must have an appointed first-aider. In the event of an accident or injury, you will then be able to administer the necessary first aid. Although a first aid qualification or certificate is not legally required, it is the easiest way to demonstrate your first aid training.

Comply with allergen requirements

Food businesses are legally required to label their food products with information regarding the 14 allergens. If any of the food you sell contains any of the 14 allergens, this information must be visible to customers.

Comply with fire safety legislation

As the business owner, you will be responsible for fire safety on your premises. This could include conducting fire risk assessments, implementing fire safety measures, ensuring staff are both informed and trained on fire safety, and implementing emergency procedures.

Implement health and safety policies

It is legally required that all workplaces have health and safety policies. These policies should help to manage health and safety in your business and should be clearly displayed for your employees to view.

Comply with employment legislation

If you hire any staff, you must comply with all areas of employment legislation, including recruitment, pay, working hours, holidays, sickness, maternity, paternity, discrimination and dismissals.

Register your business

You must register your business with HMRC before you begin operating. You can register as a sole trader or as a limited company. You will need to register your business name and any other relevant information.

Register for self-assessment tax

This allows you to calculate and pay your own taxes each year. You will need to track your finances every month and submit any expenses as part of your tax assessment.

Butcher At Work

Positives of Owning a Butcher’s Shop

Some of the positives associated with owning a butcher’s shop include:

Hands-on work

As a butcher, you won’t be sitting around staring at a computer screen all day. You’ll be active for a lot of the day, involved in different tasks, running the shop and talking to customers. This is great for people who don’t want a traditional office job.

No qualifications needed

This is an easy industry to get into, with no qualifications or previous experience needed. Most of the knowledge you need will be learnt on the job, and you will only need minimal training, such as in food hygiene standards.

Good work-life balance

Butchers usually work traditional working hours, and your shop won’t be expected to be open in the evening. However, butcher’s shops are generally more popular at the weekend, when people cook roast dinners or have a full English breakfast, meaning you may be required to work at these times.

Lots of face-to-face interaction

You will spend a lot of your day serving customers and will have the opportunity to chat with lots of different people. Butcher’s shops usually have a lot of repeat business, meaning you will see the same customers every week. You will often get to know them and learn about their lives. People will also trust your opinion regarding which meat to buy.

Be involved in your local community

Butchers, bakers, greengrocers and newsagents used to be the pillars of the local community and with many people wanting to return to that local community feeling, your business is likely to be highly appreciated by many. You can also involve yourself in local community events and get to know people who live in your area.

Be your own boss

Being your own boss gives you the opportunity to control the growth of your business, manage your own time, and gain more self-confidence and job satisfaction. Owning your own butcher’s shop also means that all your profits will belong to you, and you will be in control of creating your ideal business.

Choose your own hours

As the owner of the shop, you can choose the shop’s opening hours. If your hire additional staff, you can also choose to take a hands-off approach to running your business by reducing your hours and handing over a lot of the responsibility.

Butcher's Meat

Negatives of Owning a Butcher’s Shop

However, there are some important negative aspects of owning a butcher’s shop that you should be aware of. Consider these cons carefully before deciding whether this is the best career option for you.

It can be ethically questionable

Even if you are not a vegetarian, being directly involved in a profession that slaughters animals can cause some ethical concerns. Even if you think you are comfortable with this, the reality may be very different. You may also face judgement from others.

Reduction in meat-eating

More than 7 million adults in the UK are currently vegetarian or vegan with a further 8.8 million people stating that they intend to stop eating meat this year. With fewer people eating meat every year, the demand for butchers is declining.

High competition

Not only are you competing with other butcher’s shops, but you are also competing with supermarkets that sell a huge variety of fresh, frozen and ready-to-eat meat. This can make it more difficult for your business to succeed and can result in a loss of profits.

High time commitment

To accommodate all of your students and to attract new students, you will likely need to be available for lessons in the evenings and at weekends, as the majority of people will work during the week. Working anti-social hours can be difficult and may affect your home and social life.

Extremely messy work

When you think about the daily tasks a butcher is responsible for, a lot of your work will be very messy, and you could be going home every day smelling unpleasant. You will be dealing with blood, guts and dead animals regularly, which will be a big negative for many people.

Not very lucrative

A butcher’s salary isn’t very high, and you aren’t likely to earn high profits from your business. Your pay will likely fall within the UK average salary, which is disproportionate to the amount of work you will be required to do and the responsibilities you will have as a business owner.

Physically demanding

Not only will you be on your feet all day, but you will also be handling heavy machinery and large stock every day. The repetitive movements and strength you will need when chopping and slicing the meat can also result in strains, pain or even injury. Working in a butcher’s shop can be physically demanding, tiring and potentially risky.

Lots of equipment required

Setting up a butcher’s shop requires you to purchase a lot of equipment and requires a high initial investment. The high start-up costs will mean it will take longer until you begin turning a profit.

The cost and maintenance of equipment

The equipment you will need to use every day will require a lot of maintenance. You will also likely have to fund repairs and replacements, which can be expensive.

Fairly high start-up costs

Because the costs associated with the equipment and stock for a butcher’s shop are high, this increases the risks associated with setting up your business, as a higher initial investment is needed. As well as taking you longer to start turning a profit, your running costs will also be higher as you will be responsible for paying rental costs, overhead costs, staff wages and the costs associated with buying meat. You may need to seek outside investment in order to set up your butcher’s shop business.

High risk of food poisoning and cross-contamination

Meat is an extremely high-risk food group. The meat can become contaminated or go bad. As you will likely be selling both raw and cooked meat, this also creates more risk. Selling meat has a risk of food poisoning, which can be extremely dangerous, causing illness or in serious situations, even death. Your business could be held liable if a customer becomes ill after eating your products.

Lots of waste and additional costs

Meat has an extremely short shelf life and if you do not receive the expected foot traffic or your business is quieter than you expected, you may encounter a lot of food waste which will eat into your profits. All meat must be sold before its quality begins to decline and while it is within its use-by dates, which could result in a lot of waste.

Limit to the amount of stock you can store

Because of concerns regarding meat going bad or not being sold before the acceptable date, there is a limited amount of stock you will be able to store in your shop. You may also run out of space if your shop has limited space. If you have more business than expected, this could mean you run out of stock and have to cease operations part way through an event.

Limit to the number of staff

Because of budget constraints, you may not be able to hire any additional staff. Running a butcher’s shop can be expensive and the costs of paying employees’ wages can have a negative impact on your profits. If you are unable to hire staff, this will mean you will have to work longer hours and have more responsibilities.

Planning Your Butcher’s Shop

When setting up your butcher’s shop business, an effective and well-designed business plan is an essential step in helping your business succeed.

When creating your business plan, ensure it includes data such as:

    • Your company information.
    • Your company description.
    • The services you will provide.
    • Your branding, marketing and advertising plan.
    • The structure of your business.
    • The operational plan for your business.
    • The financial plan for your business.


    There are certain considerations you will need to make as part of your business plan:

    What will you sell?

    What types of meat products will you sell? Will you sell both raw and cooked meat? Will you offer pre-packaged meat? Will you sell processed meat products? Will you sell any non-meat products? There are a lot of things to consider when thinking about the types of products you will sell. Consider local demand, the size of your shop, your equipment and your storage capabilities.

    Who is your target market?

    Determining your target market allows you to create an advertising and marketing policy that will attract the right market. Converting your target market into customers will be a key goal for your business.

    Where will your business be located?

    When deciding where your shop will be located, consider your typical customers and how easy it will be for them to access your shop. Easy accessibility and high foot traffic should result in an increase in business. You will also need to consider rental prices when choosing a location.

    What equipment do you require?

    As you can see from the list above, a butcher’s shop generally has a lot of equipment requirements. The equipment you need is also expensive and can result in high initial investment requirements. Consider which equipment is a necessity and which could be purchased at later dates. You could also consider whether any equipment can be rented or purchased as part of a payment plan.

    What is your brand identity?

    Your brand identity is how your customers will recognise your business. Ensure your brand represents your business and what it stands for. It should also set you apart from any local competition and ensure your business is attractive to potential customers.

    What local competition do you have and what are their price points?

    Being aware of other butcher’s shops in the local area can help you to decide your price points, the types of products you will sell and your business brand. You should also look at the butcher’s department of your local supermarkets. Ensure there is a demand for your business and that the market is not already saturated before setting up your business.

    How will you finance your business?

    Consult the list of start-up costs and running costs above to determine what capital you will require. Can you finance the business yourself or will you need to source outside investment? You will also need to calculate when you are likely to begin turning a profit. If you require outside investment, you could consider a bank or other financial institution, a business loan or an investment partner.

    What is your pricing policy?

    You will need to consider the costs of purchasing the meat, how much additional work is required by you and your acceptable profit margins. Some meat will need to be priced per kg, whereas others will be priced per 100g.

    What are your business objectives?

    Your business objectives are crucial for creating a successful business plan. Your business objectives highlight the targets and goals of your butcher’s shop business and help you to create a one-year, three-year and five-year business plan to help you grow your business.

    Your business objectives should be SMART:

      • S = Specific
      • M = Measurable
      • A = Achievable
      • R = Realistic
      • T = Time-bound


      Have you complied with all legal requirements?

      Consult the list of legal requirements above to check you have complied with all requirements and regulations and that all your paperwork is accurate. Failure to comply with legal requirements could have a detrimental effect on your business or could result in a fine, the forced closure of your business or, in serious cases, prosecution.

      Download our business plan

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