Pak Butchers: a point of view from Abdul Malik

Introducing Abdul Malik
Abdul Raoof Malik was born in Easton, Bristol in 1973. At the age of 19, he signed a lease to a butcher’s shop in Easton and named it Pak Butchers, meaning ‘clean and pure’. What ensued was a chain of independent butchers’ acting as the main supplier of halal meat to the South West. Pak Butchers have four shops in Bristol and one in Cardiff.

What range of meat do you sell?
We sell halal meat and poultry, lamb, mutton, beef and goat as well as frozen ready meals, samosa’s, sheesh kebabs, burgers, fresh sausages and a range of Game products including quail. We run an ongoing halal recipe competition. Winning recipes are featured and the contributor wins a £25 voucher.

Where do you buy your meat from and where is it originally reared?
All of our meat and poultry is locally bought. We rely on our contacts that we have built over 2 decades to buy local where possible. We specialise in ‘Welsh valley’ lamb and locally farmed chicken and hens as well as beef. Some of our meat comes from Gloucester and Birmingham too.

Our trade principles include our belief that the animal should have a good and healthy life prior to slaughter, this includes living conditions and feed. We visit our local slaughter houses and farms that provide livestock for our businesses.

The method of slaughter is also a crucial part of our business and throughout our trading life we have campaigned for the method of slaughter to be the best and most humane method, I personally have campaigned to stop ‘bolt stunning’ and ‘electrocution’ before slaughter, so that the animal only dies a natural death.

Who are your main customers?
Our customers come from very diverse backgrounds. Initially we set our business up to cater for the deficit in the trade for the Muslim community, however over the years, and as smaller independent butchers have closed we have taken on the role of ‘local family butchers’ by default, hence attracting a wider market. We have been able to build bridges between different communities on our high street.

What would you like people in Bristol to know about the specialist independent food retailers and in particular butchers?
As more and more of our high streets are becoming derelict, it is up to local communities to help the ‘sole trader’ survive. We need to support our local traders and in turn it is only the small community local trader that can give people that one to one personal service that communities are made of and indeed expect. Supermarkets dominate most trade now and to reverse the effects of this has become a truly impossible task. However we can help the sustainability of those traders who have survived this takeover. Where we see someone who is doing a truly local and brilliant job, we can help them expand to other places and other communities. This can build a new local business ‘era’ in run down high streets. For example rather than having a ‘Tesco express’ open up in an empty unit somewhere like Stapleton Road in Easton, we could have a ‘Bristol Sweet mart-express’ or another local trader from a successful high street in Bristol open instead. We could encourage a successful local entrepreneur to further their services across the city, hence the gap in trade is fulfilled and at the same time we are creating a sustainable and more local trade place. This is the way I have sustained my business. When we have had to deal with the effects of a new supermarket taking over our trade, we looked for another area where we can attract the customer. We also managed to sustain the potential staff loss by opening a further outlet. Even though overheads have increased, we still make a reasonable living and provide an exceptional service.

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