Feature: Appleton's Butchers celebrates 150 years of business

Appleton's Butchers 150th anniversary. Anthony and Isabel Sterne with staff members Lauren Thomson, Richard Mudd (manager), Neville Deaton, Aon Meek, Dan Evans and Sharon Ryan. Picture: Adrian Murray. (1708144AM3).
Appleton's Butchers 150th anniversary. Anthony and Isabel Sterne with staff members Lauren Thomson, Richard Mudd (manager), Neville Deaton, Aon Meek, Dan Evans and Sharon Ryan. Picture: Adrian Murray. (1708144AM3).

Ripon is known for being a city steeped in traditions, and for 150 years Appleton’s butchers has been a constant for us - a friendly face at the heart of the Market Square, and a business proud of its roots.

The owner of Appleton’s, Anthony Sterne, said their traditional over the counter service goes “hand in hand” with Ripon’s traditions, and is grateful for the continued loyalty from Ripon customers and visitors to the city.

Owner of Appleton's Anthony Sterne. Picture: Adrian Murray.

Owner of Appleton's Anthony Sterne. Picture: Adrian Murray.

Speaking to the ‘Gazette inside the bustling Ripon shop with his wife Isabel on Monday afternoon, where anniversary celebrations are in full swing, Mr Sterne, who bought the business from Roger Gaunt seven years ago, said: “This has been in Ripon for such a long time, that we don’t want to change anything here, we are careful to continue making the pies here.

“People in Ripon certainly know what they like, when we’ve tried a few new things in the past, we’ve found that if they don’t like it they will tell you, which is great.

“It’s very important to have that good relationship with the customer where we find out what they do and don’t like.

“Ripon people like traditional things done here, in our other shops customers like to see new ideas more. But things sell differently in the different shops.

Owner of Appleton's Anthony Sterne with his wife Isabel. Picture: Adrian Murray. (1708144AM1).

Owner of Appleton's Anthony Sterne with his wife Isabel. Picture: Adrian Murray. (1708144AM1).

“Ox tongue is popular in Ripon, but doesn’t really sell like that anywhere else.”

Appleton’s has four shops in Ripon, York, Wetherby and Boroughbridge, and will be opening a new shop in Knaresborough next year where Robinsons pork butchers used to be.

Some 12,000 pies a week are made in Ripon, which are delivered to the other shops in their raw pastry cases, and then baked on the premises.

Mr Sterne told the ‘Gazette that one of the key ingredients of the business’s continued success, is its traditional service, which offers something warm and familiar in a sector crowded with supermarkets and chains.

He said: “Making and baking things freshly, and bringing things straight out of the oven fresh with the smell coming through, is a real selling point for Appleton’s.

“One of the big strengths is our tradition, people want the traditional over the counter service rather than picking things up on the supermarket shelves.

“We offer a friendly, knowledgeable service with that interaction with the customer. Our heritage is a big selling point for us, giving people that old fashioned experience.

“We have a good location on the Market Square, and the market gives a big boost to getting people into the city.”

Marking the 150th anniversary in true Appleton’s style, a traditional pie has been created from delving into the vaults of old recipes dating back to 1867.

On sale in all of the Appleton’s shops this week, the pie is made from York ham and rose veal. Scratchcards are being given away to customers with every purchase to give them the chance to win Appleton’s hampers and gift cards, and there are tastings organised throughout the week.

The fondness that people have for Appleton’s and their pork pies continues to spread across the globe. Only on Monday Mr Sterne said someone had ordered a gift card from the Channel Islands, and people from as far as New Zealand and Australia, have all been eager to get their hands on a pork pie and other flagship Appleton’s produce.

Mr Sterne said: “It is great to have this demand, but we wouldn’t do a postal service because we couldn’t guarantee quality, we need people to come to the shop to have that quality and consistency. We would lose our reputation.

“But probably our biggest fan is our four-year-old daughter, she won’t have any other sausage rolls.

“We have such a good team here, it’s a joy to come to work. I think as long as you look after the customer and deliver that consistency and quality, they will look after you.

“It is great to see other independents opening up in Ripon.

“This is a good time of the year for us, with a big holiday season and the races.”

The history of Appleton’s: Appleton’s has been in business since 1867, when nineteen-year-old Thomas Appleton started working for Smithson’s butchers on Kirkgate. When Mr Smithson died five years later, the business was transferred to Mr Appleton and became T Appleton & Son. In 1936 Appleton’s moved into its home on the Market Square. In December last year Appleton’s opened its first shop in Boroughbridge and the shop in Knaresborough opening next year will be its fifth shop.