Better Food Company on the Bristol Pound

See what one of our most popular businesses, The Better Food Company, feel about being a Bristol Pound business:

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What is The Better Food Company?

The Better Food Company is an award-winning micro chain that has been serving the best local, organic and ethically produced food to the people of Bristol for over ten years. It comprises of a large shop and café in St Werburghs and a food hall and deli on Whiteladies Road in Clifton.

Owner and MD, Phil Haughton is also an active trustee of the Soil Association, and has spent more than 25 years working with organic food and farming in the South West. He is also on the board of The Community Farm, and even raises his own turkeys for the Christmas market ‘because no one else did it to my standards!’ he adds.

In fact Better Food was at the heart of launching The Community Farm, a Community Supported Agriculture venture in the nearby Chew Valley, whose produce is sold in both shops and used in the café.

How did The Better Food Company become aware of the Bristol Pound?

The first official notification that The Bristol Pound was on its way was when Ciaran (£B Director) came in to tell us about it early in 2012. Even back then, rumours were circulating, and it was obvious that we would be involved. Our customers would have insisted, even if we hadn’t wanted to!

Why did The Better Food Company decide to get involved?

Better Food Company were keen in be involved because the arguments concerning local economic sustainability are compelling. As well as being committed to organic and sustainable food production, we’re also committed to keeping things as local as possible, working with small producers and independent businesses.

 We were also keen to try out new technologies – the Text2Pay scheme in particular. We know that in the near future people will be paying in a variety of new ways, so this seemed like a perfect opportunity to see how it might work. It’s been simple and glitch free, even in deepest St Werburghs, where there are sometimes problems with mobile phone reception.

The Bristol Pound venture has also been a good marketing opportunity and a great way to ally ourselves with like minded businesses. It’s exciting to be part of such an ambitious and committed scheme right from the start.

What has been the experience of getting it working from a business point of view?

This was our biggest hurdle, to be honest. We were all very keen in principal. In practice, this is unchartered territory. We have three business areas operating over two sites with eight tills. The thought of treating the Bristol Pound as a separate currency was extremely daunting. How would the VAT work? How would we fit two different currencies in our tills? How would we reconcile the banking?

How is it working at the moment?

After a slightly shaky start, we have found that just treating Bristol Pound notes as sterling has worked best. The Text2Pay system is quick and easy. The cash handling does take extra administrative time and we now have more bank accounts to manage, but on balance we think it’s worth it in order to participate in the scheme.

How has it impacted on business?

It certainly keeps money circulating within the local economy. One of our main suppliers, Essential Trading, accepts them, so that has been very smooth. It’s very easy to pay them via the online banking system.

What do staff think of it?

They love it! There’s always a bit of a buzz when a Bristol Pound sale goes through. And our tills are brightened by the beautiful notes.

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