As you wind down the country lanes towards the entrance to the Daylesford store, a short distance from the famous Soho farmhouse, you get the impression that Hollywood has produced a version of the English countryside with the cliched images of running pheasants aimlessly in the road and the strange deer wandering in the adjacent field.
Upon arrival in the busy car park, an impressive village of shops, spa, restaurant, cafe and cooking school awaits, adorned in natural tones and a theme of stylized hearts throughout the environment as a cohesive feature. Daylesford wants to put heart into the customer experience.
Daylesford Organic is celebrating the twentieth anniversary of its Cotswolds Farmshop, culminating with a very special weekend in the autumn to mark two decades of this very special retail proposition.
The idea for the Daylesford business began forty years ago when Carole Bamford OBE recognized the importance and benefits of organic farming. This passion for gaining one’s own knowledge of the food supply chain and how to feed one’s own family with more organic produce has become a highly respected and pioneering brand of organic living.
It’s fair to point out at this early stage that Daylesford and Bamford products are way over budget for many. Indeed, the reality of ever-rising food prices in the weekly shop makes the idea of spending more than £5 on a sachet of broth somewhat indulgent.
This is definitely luxury retail, but one that offers a very authentic day-to-day view where some of the major corporate competitors have recently become a bit stuck.
The most memorable part of the Daylesford experience for me has been the enthusiasm with which my colleagues talk about the product offering. Everyone seemed to have a deep understanding of the business, the supply chain and why it all matters.
Many luxury retail propositions can often fall at the last hurdle. Despite all the money invested in the perfect concept store and in training the first tier of ambassadors representing the brand, there can be a lack of consistency in delivery to every touchpoint. That didn’t seem to be the experience of hundreds of happy Daylesford customers that day.
Despite the freezing cold, outside in the confines of the little shopping oasis, eager colleagues from the garden shop could be heard helping a novice planter choose bulbs for the time of year and enjoying the opportunity to help with sound advice. At the restaurant, a waiter explained every item on the special menu with great care. There is something about Daylesford (Organic) Water that seems to have the majority of co-workers who live, breathe and sincerely believe in the vision.
The retailer’s main philosophy is that if you nurture and respect the earth, it will reciprocate, with nutritious and tasty food. As more and more consumers want to engage with food chain literacy, it’s something the Daylesford brand has been delivering for decades.
In 2020, organic food and drink turnover in the UK was £2.6 billion. This is the largest increase in organic food sales in 15 years, an increase of 12.6%. Growth has been flat since 2011 after a decline from 2009-2011, when shoppers were under financial pressure with reduced food shopping budgets and therefore flocked to supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl.
However, the forced shutdowns in 2020-21 have seen many consumers refocus on their own eating habits and make big changes. Certainly social awareness has had a positive impact on sales in the UK, with greater consideration of environmental impact and personal care by shoppers who had the budgets to do so. Most grocery stores have developed each of their offers with more organic and sustainable products. As one of the best prices on the market, one might wonder why Daylesford has managed to thrive.
As an early adopter of organic, Daylesford is making change by setting ambitious goals and driving more change in the supply chain. The brand states that it is dedicated to growing, producing and cooking seasonal organic food underpinned by sustainable practices and with 100% self-sufficiency.
Daylesford has four smaller stores in London and also offers products through online grocery store Ocado. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Cotswolds store is sure to be a hallmark experience. A harvest festival is planned for September with a very British dog show, inspirational workshops with guest artisans and growers doing demonstrations and child-friendly activities including games and rides. Shoppers are also invited to toast The Wild Rabbit, a traditional British inn also owned by the group.
Some reviewers called the Daylesford experience “expensive” and even “pretentious”, with former GQ editor and author Dylan Jones calling it “Britain’s fanciest boutique”, but many loyal and satisfied customers return time and time again for genuine delivery. know-how and quality products. At the entrance, a converted horse box served local cyclists a pit stop of a bacon sandwich and a cup of tea. Sitting with rosy faces next to a roaring open fire outside, there seemed to be genuine gratitude that such a place existed.