Peter Turner, a director at Turner’s Pies, on how the business has further engaged with its local community in the face of the coronavirus crisis.

It is crucial that our business stays at the heart of the community in these trying times, and I believe other bakers should consider embracing efforts to diversify their trade.

For us, it was a ‘no-brainer’ to look at better utilising our pies-by-post service in light of the coronavirus crisis. As a result, we decided to offer free delivery to our elderly and vulnerable customers, and ensure they can still have our tasty products on their dining tables.

We have developed a really slick system since the inception of pies-by-post in the wake of our first Supreme Champion title back in 2018 with our steak & ale pie. (The business took the title again this year with its steak & stilton pie.)

We immediately saw business take off, as we took our brand all over the UK using the delivery service. It nicely complemented our shops in Chichester, Rustington, Bognor Regis and Worthing, and before long, the popularity of the service was evident as we witnessed excellent growth in both orders and awareness.

We aim to have all orders delivered within three to four working days and, during this time, the orders are processed and the pies baked fresh to order so that they arrive as quickly and as fresh as possible. Once the order has been processed customers receive an email with the details of the courier and full tracking. It’s a well-oiled process and works wonderfully for us and our customers.

As both online and in-shop trade flourished, we continued to be at the forefront of the communities we serve.

We are every inch a family-run business and have been since my grandparents started making pies in the 1930s and our dad, Pip, then opened the very first Turner’s pie shop. I now run the business, along with siblings Phil and Joe and a hard-working team of staff.

It was very much in our DNA to look at how we could help customers who have been affected by the social distancing imposed to try to combat coronavirus. Pies-by-post was an obvious way to circumvent the much-need restrictions. We quickly decided to waive the delivery charge to make it easier on the pocket of those most in need and, since launching the free service, we have been inundated with orders.

We’d urge any bakers who feel that they perhaps don’t engage enough with their community to consider doing so. Not only is it good for those people you serve, but as a business it feeds the very soul of what we do.