It’s been a hectic few weeks in Seasalter. In addition to getting my hands dirty with a range of exciting home improvements, my plans to open up a butchery and deli counter have been progressing well.

I’m hoping to be able to launch it just before Easter, which is a key selling time for us, particularly if the sun shines and people head to the holiday park or the coast.

I’m lucky enough to have a brother-in-law who works in construction to help me make all the changes in-store, and I’m keen to get involved, too.

I’ve also recently appointed a local lady to compile a shortlist of applicants for the role of deli head chef. The plan is for them to run the deli and use products to create a range of own-label ready meals for the store. We are fortunate enough to have two renowned catering colleges in Kent with whom she works closely, and it’s likely that our new recruit will come from there.

To be able to give the opportunity to someone who lives and was trained locally will be really satisfying and I can’t wait to meet the final applicants in the next few days. I’ll probably hold a ‘cook-off’ for the final stage of the interview process.

The horsegate saga has had an impact on us. We don’t stock a large range of frozen ready meals so I haven’t seen a decline in sales of these, but our fresh local meat sales have been soaring. In fact, I can’t think of a better time for us to be launching our new butchery and deli counters. With each new scare story shoppers are losing more faith in processed, mass-produced foods, which is great news for independent retailers like us who sell excellent quality, locally produced and 100% traceable goods.

Much of our meat comes from a wonderful local enterprise called Monkshill Farm. In addition to producing quality free-range chickens, pork, lamb, beef and eggs, the farm – which is owned by the Royal School for Deaf Children – allows local college kids to get hands-on experience of farm life. It’s a truly inspiring business to work with, and our customers can’t get enough of it. Long may it continue!