A FAMILY OF BUTCHERS SPANNING FIVE GENERATIONS
Within the branches of the family tree, the Eynon’s can trace an association with butchery as far back as 1860. In those far distant days, it was the practice in rural areas for farmers or those with small holdings to also sell meat in their locality.
The first example of an Eynon’s retail shop in St.Clears evolved at the turn of the last century. It was a modest venture as the trading environment in a small Welsh market town dictated. James Decimus Eynon, the tenth child in his family, my great-great grandfather, became the first shopkeeper in the family.
There simply was not enough work within his business for his children to assist him or to develop the business, during a time when the first Great War had a significant impact on the economy of the day. My great-grandfather Carl Eynon left the area and moved to one of the great Welsh mining valleys and began working for the Cooperative Society as a butcher.
During this time in the village called Blaengwynfi, my grandfather was born, Edward George Eynon on 1st February 1925. My grandfather attended the local primary school, and during the formative years of his life, experienced the harsh realities of life in a small mining community. These were very difficult times for the family and although they had a small home of their own, the lifestyle was basic and my grandfather’s first pair of shoes came by way of charitable donation. Humble beginnings indeed but the family involvement with the meat trade continued although in the employment of another company.
The growth of St.Clears during this time persuaded the family that a move back to St.Clears was realistic, and a small shop and property became available for rent in the village and my great-grandfather moved his family back to West Wales.
Ironically he now opposed my great great grandfather in business and again the family standard of living was very basic. Opportunities arose however from neighbouring properties. A small cottage next door was rented and living accommodation improved. The business interests progressed to the next town along the A40 called Whitland, but generally, it is accepted that business opportunities remained few.
The next significant intervention in the family story is, of course, the Second World War. My grandfather, therefore, did not join my great grandfather in business and joined the Royal Navy at the age of eighteen. On 18th September 1943, following basic training at HMS Raleigh, he acquired a formal qualification in butchery and storekeeping. He served in the Far East in HMS Speaker a support carrier. My grandfather, being the next generation, continued an association with butchery but now in extraordinary circumstances.
On leaving the Royal Navy, regulation or rationing prevented my grandfather either joining my great-grandfather in business or opening his own shop. Circumstances dictated that in three generations of butchers not one succeeded another in the same business. My grandfather’s opportunity arrived on the death of my great-great grandfather in 1953. He had worked in the intervening years as a policeman at the Experimental Establishment in Pendine, West Wales, but had always hoped to open his own business.
The next retail business in the family story opened in September 1955, in the town centre of St.Clears. Equipment, refrigeration and indeed business opportunities now developed quickly, and my grandparents moved property from one side of the A40 in the town centre to the other side of this busy road, to a very much bigger property with far greater potential.
The first occasion for a family member to succeed another within the same business arrived in 1969 when my father joined my grandparents in partnership. It is arguably from this point on that business opportunities and turnover began to blossom in the family history. It was a time when the Sunday roast was the main family meal of the week, and the agricultural economy in rural areas was buoyant. The farming communities were important customers, and in 1963 the family built an abattoir to service the business.
It was very much a time when St.Clears as a market town would be bustling with activity each day when the livestock market was open. Prior to the town being by-passed the A40 through the town was chaos during the summer holiday period, at a time when people holidayed in this country and the summers were hot and seemed to last for weeks.
It was eventually time for my grandparents to consider a well-earned retirement, and in 1990 they retired and the partnership with my father ceased. Crucially it was also the time for a change and a new direction was considered by my father and the shop you see today was created in 1994. The entire property was refurbished and the new look Eynon’s was born.
The business activities today
The company today is managed by my father and his co-director, his wife Rhiannon. It remains very much a family business and they currently employ 4 members of staff. The product range reflects today’s eating and shopping trends and includes a varied meat counter, a bakery producing meat pies, and a range of kitchen ready meals.
The shop floor has an extensive range of fine wines, champagnes, handmade chocolate, preserves and the list goes on and on. The theme generally is to focus on luxury and exclusivity and to entertain the customers as they browse from one corner to another.
Christmas is a very significant trading time of year, with logistics, storage and energy tested to the full. Preparations for mail order deliveries start as early as August, and the entire campaign requires weeks of careful planning. The intake of fresh meat multiplies dramatically, and advance baking starts in October. Rhiannon manages the corporate gift and family gift demand and makes and decorates several hundred hampers and gift baskets.
The trading year is now very demanding but for all the best reasons. Eynon’s continues to grow and develop and is justifiably recognized as the best in Wales and recently voted the best in the U.K.
I am the next generation, in fact, the fifth to play a part in this story. My eight years in the Royal Navy has ended, where I was in the Logistics branch as a Leading Stores Accountant. The travelling whilst in was extensive which took me to places as far south as the Falkland Islands, and east to Australia. I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent in the Navy but had an ambition one day to joy the family business.
I will play an active part in the progress of this family story. My father and Rhiannon remain ambitious and have now identified the need for warehousing and new facilities to meet the needs of future growth, and at the end of 2006, the new factory to the rear of the shop was completed.
There will always be concern over the future of the meat trade following successive crises both in the meat trade and agriculture. The Foot and Mouth outbreak has ironically signalled an appreciation by the general public of quality food and has persuaded most to steer towards independent specialist outlets that take care in sourcing meat and fine food, from only natural free-range or organic sources.
The future of Eynon’s would appear to be safe, and in safe hands and the next chapter in the story has started.