Cornish butcher takes a stand against supermarket
Family butcher Philip Warren & Son has taken action against supermarket Lidl for allegedly “passing off its brand name.”
Based in Cornwall, the butcher business said it began to receive complaints from members of the public about its meat quality and products that it did not actually produce. It was subsequently revealed, according to butchers Warren & Sons, that the complaints referred to Lidl products under the brand name of ‘Warren & Sons’.
Managing director Ian Warren, told Meat Management: “Our business has worked tirelessly over four decades to establish our widespread reputation for the quality of our meat – all based on our complete commitment to genuine provenance. We have only ever used traditional methods of farming and butchery, even when most other independent butchers were being forced to move away from doing so or closing because of the increased competition from the supermarkets.
“Our dedication to the most difficult and least financially sustainable methods is because I, and my father before me, have always believed that it is the right way to do things – both because it results in the best possible quality of meat and also because we are supporting our local partner farms across the South West.”
He continued: “We have had to deal with confusion over a number of years – including Lidl customers mistakenly contacting us to complain about the quality of the meat they had bought from them. Given our customers choose to buy from us because of our commitment to quality – whether that be the UK’s most highly regarded chefs or those looking to feed their families at home – the prospect of being mistaken to have a connection with Lidl is horrifying. I believe strongly that more should be done to ensure that producers and farmers such as ourselves and consumers, are protected from the types of deceptive branding used by supermarkets.”
Warren added: “However, it would almost be impossible for a family business like ours to take on a retail giant such as Lidl. I could not afford to expose the business to the cost and risk of pursuing a High Court claim – whether we win or lose, it would likely cost us more that we can afford to lose. That means that supermarkets simply get away with it, which wouldn’t be right – I wanted to be able to take a stand.
“For that reason, I am hugely grateful to the team at Stobbs for agreeing to represent us in a way that allowed us to take on Lidl. Stobbs and our barrister agreed to act pursuant to a Damages Based Agreement (DBA) – this is a type of ‘no win, no fee’ arrangement, with insurance in place to protect against the risk of having to pay Lidl’s costs if we lose.
“We could never have pursued the matter without them, and I now hope that we all get the just outcome we have been striving for.”
Both the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS) and the National Craft Butchers (NCB) have reached out to Warrens to congratulate them on their stand, to offer support and assure them that in their view many craft butchers all over the country are 100% behind what NCB and AIMS see as a David v Goliath challenge.
Philip Warren & Son lodged its complaint with the High Court, which was heard remotely in February. NCB technical manager, Richard Stevenson, commented: “We await the results of this important test case with great interest.”
Lidl GB was contacted by Meat Management for comment but were unable to respond saying: “This is an ongoing court case, so we cannot comment.”