The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown has helped to sharpen the focus of most businesses, including London Smoke & Cure

Photo of London Smoke and Cure

Its founder, Ross Mitchell, says the last few months have been the hardest he has had to go through as an entrepreneur, but believes it will make him and his business more resilient. 

Ross launched the business in 2015 on his own, but has steadily grown the team to four. The smokery and curing house makes high-quality produce to order from its South London base. 

“Everything we do is crafted by hand, so we have complete control over the quality of our produce,” Ross says. 

“We use really traditional techniques – curing meat is one of the oldest techniques out there – but have redesigned them so they are more suitable for our modern tastes. 

“We take much more care of how we cure our own bacon, for example. Bacon is a product that has become so cheap and mass produced and is so far removed from how the product is naturally.

“We’re still a small-ish business and that’s the way we like it. It has grown sustainably and organically over the years. We’re not aiming to conquer the entire world; we’re just bringing people together over a love of great quality produce and enjoying ourselves along the way.”

Despite the coronavirus lockdown having an impact on the business, it has helped to focus Ross and his team and sharpen up the business model for the years ahead. 

He said: “It’s been a fascinating time. We’ve learnt more in the last three months than we have in the previous five years. 

“It has forced us to look at the whole business; what we stand for, what we want to get out of it, the margins, the quality, the packaging and so on. 

“It’s been the hardest time – the perfect storm – but we’ve used the time to make us stronger. 

“Before the lockdown, we were supplying restaurants, so obviously that stopped straight away. We quickly flipped to selling online, our orders rose and have been sustained at a good level since.”

Ross is completely self-taught, allowing him to bring innovation to the trade. 

He added: “I love the innovative process. It’s manifested in lots of different ways over the years, including wood carving and making small sound systems - all very hands on. 

“But this time, when I was looking at smoking salmon, it coincided with me getting made redundant. I wanted something of a longer-term project and used my farewell gift of Amazon book vouchers to do some reading up. 

“I wasn’t raised in a butcher’s shop and nor had I spent lots of time doing things the way they’ve previously been done, so what you get as a consequence is something a bit different. You reinvent these traditional processes.”

London Smoke & Cure remained a part-time venture until 2017 when Ross then took out a Start Up Loan from Virgin StartUp the following year to move into bespoke premises. 

Now situated in a cobbled mews in Streatham, the business has grown steadily since the loan, selling direct to Londoners and delivering nationwide. The team’s passion is shared through workshops where people can learn about the techniques involved – something that Ross and the team hope to restart as soon as the situation allows. 

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