WHILE retail parks housing big stores are attracting strong investor interest in Scotland the experience of a resourceful butcher suggests there is still a future for at least some traditional shops in Scotland’s towns.


Stuart Arthur Minick.



What is your business called?

The Minick Group.

Where is it based?

St Andrews with outlets in Anstruther, Cupar, Ladybank, Newport, Glenrothes and Elie.

What services does it offer?

We run traditional high street butchers and a pie shop across northeast Fife that produce a range of locally sourced beef, pork, lamb and venison. We also offer bespoke butchery services, cutting and packing for many small holders.

To whom does it sell?

Our shops sell to a diverse audience throughout the week and of course are busiest at the weekend, with the addition of holiday makers and foodies on the hunt for something special.

We also sell to the public at local food events such as the new Bowhouse Food Weekends and Falkland Food Markets and provide meat to local restaurants, cafes and bars.

What is its turnover?

From zero to six figures in seven years.

How many employees?

27 full and part-time staff.

When was it formed?

I opened my first outlet in St Andrews in February 2010, and also ran the Cutting Plant, a wholesale butcher based at the old abattoir site in the town. The Minick Group now has five butchers shops in total: St Andrews, Newport, Ladybank, Cupar and Anstruther. We also have the Pie Shack in in Glenrothes.

In September 2017 we took on and fitted out one of the permanent units at Toby Anstruther’s Bowhouse, an artisan food hub based just outside St Monans near Elie.

This gave us the opportunity to provide market-goers with a traditional artisan butchers experience. It has proven to be a great success, not only for the customers but also with my staff, who enjoy the buzz and atmosphere of the market. One of the great aspects of the market is our ability to sell beef and lamb from the Balcaskie Estate on which Bowhouse is based, and other local producers such as Claddach Shetland Lamb direct to market goers.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

I went into business with my father Arthur Minick in 1982 when we started A Minick & Son in Tayport, my home town. Dad had been manager of a butchers shop.

After my dad had a stroke in 2001 I kept the business going for a few years but it wasn’t the same so when I was asked to be butchery manager for the Co-Op in Cupar I took the job and sold A Minick & Son to another butcher.

I then moved down to Hampshire to manage a biodynamic butchery unit, Laverstoke Park Farm, owned by the charismatic Jody Scheckter. I’ve worked in butchers across the UK including Sheepdrove Organic Butchers based in Hungerford, with shops in Bristol and London, run by the Kindersley Family. I would give butchery demonstrations and teach renowned chefs cutting skills.

In 2007 I took a ‘gap year’ - going back to college (St Andrews University) and taking a breather. I completed an access course run in conjunction with Elmwood College designed for people who have been out of education for a while and was proud to be offered a place on a degree course at the university.

After that I helped several farmers in Angus and Fife set up butchery shops - to sell direct to the public.

How did you raise the start-up funding?


What was your biggest break?

Making the decision to open the shop in St Andrews.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

Buying directly from local farmers; working with staff that care about the product and serving the public.

I’ve really enjoyed starting up new ventures that allow us to be more innovative, such as our involvement with Bowhouse. Opening an outlet there has meant we’ve been able to reach a new market but has also given us room to experiment with different ways of maturing meat.

What do you least enjoy?

Paperwork and writing cheques. It’s also hard to find the time to promote the business. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the day to day - shouting about your own business takes second place.

What is your biggest bugbear?

When banks close their branches.

What are your ambitions for the firm?

Maintaining high street butcher shops in North Fife.

What are your top five priorities?

Quality products; the provenance of the products I sell; good staff; good relationships with my suppliers and bringing young people into the butchers trade.

What single thing would most help?

Business banking in towns where any of my shops are. Are you listening RBS?!

What could the Westminster and/or Scottish Governments do that would help?

Business rates in St Andrews are crippling. Help with this would ensure small independent firms could continue to trade in the town. Only national chains seem to be able to absorb the costs.

What is the most valuable lesson that you have learned?

Don’t be afraid to grasp opportunities when they arise.

How do you relax?

Taking my Ducati out for a long ride and quality controlling Islay’s whiskies (but not at the same time).