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Parker: Husband and wife team behind British Banger Company’s success

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    A butcher’s shop in Worsley, Lancashire, in England, that traces its history to 1937 was once owned by Tim and Tracey Worsley, who opened a similar business in Okotoks nearly a year ago.

    British Banger Company is doing remarkably well thanks to the experience and passion the husband and wife team have for creating products with an old-country texture and taste.

    Parker: Husband and wife team behind British Banger Company’s success Back to video

    The original shop was purchased by an aunt and uncle in 1964, and butcher Tim and his wife, Tracey, who was honing her selling skills as marketing manager of the famous Boddington Brewery, bought it in 2000.

    Always primarily a butcher shop — known for its prize-winning Cumberland and minted lamb sausages — the couple also sold vegetables, fruit and alcohol, and served locals a variety of offerings from a deli counter. In 2003 they expanded the premises with the purchase of the shop next door, allowing for a butcher shop and delicatessen in one half, and a general store for produce, candies and alcohol on the other side.

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    Meanwhile, the butcher shop had added fish and a broader range of meat pies, sandwiches and baked rolls. Tongue, made with the use of 10 presses, was a specialty of Worsley’s, one of the many items wholesaled to other retailers. Beef was bought on the bone, lamb was delivered whole and pigs in halves, and all cooked on the premises. That meant a lot of hard work for Tim, who reckons the couple were putting in around 90 hours a week while managing a staff of 14.

    It was a rewarding job but when a national company came knocking, wanting to purchase the building for a 24-hour convenience store, they sold and were prepared for early retirement.

    It also gave them time to rethink a dream of emigrating and they paid a visit to Calgary on the recommendation of a cousin. While here they discovered Okotoks, fell in love with the place, and after the necessary paperwork returned a year later, in September 2009.

    A condition of moving to Canada was that Tim had to work, and he took up one of his former skills as a long-haul truck driver. Tracey also took a truck driving course and they became a distance driving team, enjoying discovering Canada from Vancouver to Mississauga, Ont.

    It wasn’t intended to be a forever job, and Tracey later started her own bookkeeping firm. But acknowledging that owning another butcher shop had always been on their agenda, they researched the Canadian Food Inspection Agency requirements and opened British Banger Company in a small 1,100-square-foot shop on Elizabeth Street in Okotoks.

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    An instant hit, five months later it was named the 2019 Okotoks Chamber of Commerce New Business of the Year.

    The shop has an open plan with a professional kitchen featuring a wide range, where the Worsleys cook their pies and beef, lamb and pork. And thanks to relationships in the U.K., it is able to offer many items exclusive to the shop, such as imported Battenberg and Half Moon Cakes. A number of items are sold under British Banger’s own label, including piccalilli, chutney and those delicious large pickled onions.

    Tracey says their customers are from all walks of life willing to try new tastes; although Tim says he marketed his name at the Millarville Market and it was a while before there was any interest in his black pudding — now a top seller.

    Success has meant that Tim and Tracey have had to hire two staff, but they say they are older and wiser and are sticking to their guns of having Sundays and Mondays at home at their rural acreage.

    Notes:

    As a result of COVID-19, webinars have become increasingly popular as a means of communicating. The Canadian Council of the Americas (CCA) is holding the next session of its Que Pasa in Colombia: Business Dialogues, via ZOOM at 10 a.m. on April 30. A panel of six senior executives will join the webinar from Colombia to discuss opportunities and challenges that exist for companies to collaborate in sectors including energy, agribusiness and capital/investment infrastructure. Moderator is Miguel Cortines, president and executive director of CCA Alberta

    David Parker appears regularly in the Herald. Read his columns online at calgaryherald.com/business. He can be reached at 403-830-4622 or by email at [email protected]

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    A butcher’s shop in Worsley, Lancashire, in England, that traces its history to 1937 was once owned by Tim and Tracey Worsley, who opened a similar business in… ]]>