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As for many retailers, Christmas is without a doubt our busiest time of year. Plenty of conversations for our NPD and buying teams start over a year in advance and the planning is well and truly underway in the first quarter of the calendar year. We start the process well in advance to make sure we bring our customers their favourite seasonal products such as organic slow-grown Bronze Turkeys and traditional mince pies, along with a variety of new limited-edition products that they won’t have seen before.
There is not an area of the business that Christmas does not touch. From our producers on the farm, to the buying and creative teams, chefs in the kitchens, the wholesale team and of course those on the shopfloors, everyone is involved in the preparations from one degree to another. The creative and theme team are involved from start to finish. They come up with the overall campaign for Christmas and are involved every step of the way all the way along to decorating and merchandising the five farm shops. In addition to our busy teams, Carole Bamford is very hands-on in the business and sees everything from new limited-edition products, to the Christmas menus in the cafés.
Christmas is a busy time for us. Our producers will be rearing organic slow-grown Bronze Turkeys, the bakers preparing mince pies, Christmas puddings and savoury snacks, the creamery team creating and maturing new and seasonal cheeses, while the gardeners are making sure we have plenty of sprouts, leafy greens and seasonal vegetables.
Daylesford Organic turns 20 next year, so we have many years of experience to draw on and we start preparing early. In addition to our classic items and popular hampers that we sell each year, we always make sure to introduce new limited-edition items. This year we have new Sour Cherry, Armagnac & Prune Mince Pies, Sweet & Smoky Nut Selection and an Organic Whole, Boned, Rolled & Stuffed Turkey as part of the Christmas range. In addition to food, the Home team introduce an entirely new Christmas range each year with tree decorations, crackers, wrapping paper, linens, crockery and candles.
We work closely with our wholesale partners such as Ocado and put a huge amount of energy into our own bricks and mortar shops. Our flagship – the farm in the Cotswolds – is a destination for both locals and visitors to the area. At Christmas, footfall rises significantly from the start of December and the week leading up to Christmas is usually our busiest of the year.
Whilst Christmas is busy, it is important not to place all focus solely on one trading period. As a seasonal farm we also have lambing in the spring, the glut of vegetables from our market garden in the summer months and harvest to keep us busy. In addition, we have Easter, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s and Father’s Day as key gifting dates, and the farm itself is always very busy in the summer months with high customer footfall.
Our approach to Christmas this year is ‘Let’s Celebrate’. From the feedback we have gathered, people want Christmas to feel extra special, with a focus on spending quality time with family and friends. Once again, we are hoping to host the special festive events we are known for. To remain within safety and Covid guidelines we were limited in our activities last year and cannot wait to bring back carol singing, Father Christmas and his reindeer at the farm and special shopping events. We also have a busy calendar of events lined up, including Festive Floristry & Wreath Making, Food & Drink Masterclasses, Seasonal Craft and Wellness Workshops as well as Christmas courses at The Cookery School.
At Daylesford, we like to work with nature and incorporate natural materials sourced from our Cotswolds farmland. Our hard-working visual merchandising team is planning to transform the shops in London and the Cotswolds with seasonal decorations and floral arrangements. The look of our stores changes every year but the principles remain the same in that we are inspired by nature and honour traditions, celebrating with Christmas trees and wreaths.
Whilst the planning has been underway for some time, the Christmas install will take place during the last week of October. Customers visiting this year can expect Christmas trees, wreaths and chandeliers made from foliage and foraged seasonal materials along with artisan felt decorations and festive lighting.
For us, it is important we make the most of the bounty of natural materials we have available to us and incorporate sustainable items elsewhere. Christmas is absolutely a time to celebrate and indulge, but we always have our brand values in mind with everything we do. We hold ourselves accountable for our ethical and environmental standards and Christmas is no different, so we would not choose to decorate the stores with anything that would be heading for landfill come January.
Online retail is a side of the business that has grown exponentially for us in the last 18 months. In the trading year ending March 2021, we saw a 263% increase in online sales. We are in the process of launching a new website to support our online sales and e-commerce teams. We see online as just as important as our bricks and mortar shops as it forms another storefront that anyone can see. The e-commerce teams work hard to offer a beautifully merchandised site and seamless customer journey.
Social media is an important tool to connect with our customers and drive engagement and sales. We use these channels to keep our customers aware of new products, seasonal heroes and updates from the farm. This storytelling will focus on what makes our festive products different and unique and will start when we hit the lead-up to Christmas and our range has launched in stores and online.