THERE’S more to Gibbons than meets the eye...
“The perception in Sunderland and the surrounding area is still that we’re a butcher’s shop,” says boss Ian Gibbons.
“The food side of the business, the retail and catering butchers, is now a very small part of what we do.”
Today, the butcher’s shop in High Street West accounts for less than 10 per cent of the business empire which is run from the offices upstairs.
As the firm celebrates its 90th anniversary, Ian is looking forward to the future with confidence – and keen to emphasise how far the firm has come.
The Gibbons network spreads worldwide. “If you go to Port Stanley, you’ll be buying Gibbons pork chops in the supermarket,” says Ian.
Gibbons has been supplying ships since 1921 and that is now the mainstay of the business. The company boasts a customer list which includes the Danish ferry company, DFDS Seaways and Nissan.
MPI Offshore, which operates purpose-built vessels installing offshore wind farm turbines, is also a client and Ian believes the development of the new low-carbon enterprise zone on North Tyneside will bring massive opportunities.
“Some of the ships we supply have up to 120 crew and they can be at sea for six months at a time, so they really do need everything from hardware through to cigarettes.”
Ian prides himself he has only once been unable to fulfil a request. “I went out to this Russian ship and the guy said ‘Now you get me girl from pub’,” he recalls.
“I had to explain that was one thing we couldn’t supply.”