A tiny Birmingham sausage maker has been axed by House of Fraser after a quarter of a century of loyal service - in favour of television stars Jimmy’s Farm.
Hall Green-based family firm AW Lashford and Sons have been supplying the Corporation Street store - formerly Rackhams - for 25 years with their renowned West Midland home produce, including a wide range of award-winning sausages.
But staff at the city meat and poultry specialists, which celebrates 120 years in business next year, were stunned to learn they had been dropped in the run-up to Christmas in favour of the Suffolk-based Jimmy's Farm, more than 160 miles away.
Already more than 25 fans of Lashford sausages, who have traditionally bought their produce from House of Fraser for years, have contacted the firm to seek alternative suppliers in the area.
The pre-Christmas axe falling on the Birmingham firm will cost the company up to £500 a week in lost business, said Gina Lashford, who runs the company with her husband Steve and his father John.
“I really can’t see why they couldn’t have our sausages as well as theirs,” she said. “On a Saturday, my husband will run down to them when they run out - I can’t see them driving over from Suffolk to help them out.
"To do this three weeks before Christmas is totally outrageous. This will cost us around £25,000 a year in total, which is a substantial amount of money for a family business.”
Her husband Steve said: “We were told just last week by the manager of the meat department that we were no longer wanted by House of Fraser.
“We had no notice - they just said ‘that’s it, we no longer need you.’ To do it like they did is very frustrating.
“We don’t like letting our customers down so close to Christmas. A lot of them travel from outside Birmingham to buy our sausages.
“We have had a lot of phone calls from customers saying ‘where can we get your produce from?’ and we’ve had to re-direct them to other shops.”
He said the family firm had won more than 100 awards in the last 30 years. Gina added: “It seems really strange for House of Fraser to have done this at this time of year. I think, after 25 years, we were entitled to better, quite frankly.”
A House of Fraser spokesperson said: “House of Fraser has taken the commercial decision to collaborate with Jimmy’s Farm to run the butchery within our Birmingham Food Hall. We selected Jimmy’s Farm because of the ethos behind their high-quality product. We hope this will be the start of many joint ventures.”
The Suffolk-based business, run by Jimmy Doherty, is billed as a working farm which offers family days out and is home to rare-breed Essex pigs.