KellyBronze: Britain’s most awarded turkey brand sets its sights on stateside success
From humble beginnings…
Turkey is a quintessential symbol of Christmas and the day just wouldn’t be the same without it. Just like the tree, it is something that families and friends are guaranteed to gather around on 25 December. But for the Kelly family, one specific breed of turkey has led to a whole new way of life and the establishment of a successful business.
Founded in 1971, Kelly Turkeys initially started with the production of the standard white turkey before changing direction in 1983 to one very simple idea: bring bronze turkeys back to Christmas dinner tables across the UK. Derek recalls, “I was 41, and had spent much of my adult life working in the international turkey industry, mainly in management positions. The experience I gained in these formative years was invaluable when setting out on our own.”
Although the bronze is a pedigree breed, until recently it had fallen out of favour with consumers due to its distinguishing black stubs and had all but disappeared from the marketplace. So when the entrepreneurial couple announced they had bought up the last remaining flocks of the pure line bronze, they were met with reactions ranging from mild amusement, to direct criticism.
Ignoring this, the pair pioneered a business that has gone from strength to strength over the last four decades, recording sales figures in excess of £4.8million in 2015. Turnover has increased by over 17% in the past two years, with the brand expected to deliver over 10,000 turkeys to UK customers this December. Kelly Turkeys might be steeped in tradition, but it’s robustly built for the future.
…To turkey aristocracy
Having won numerous awards (including the three gold star Great Taste Award), Kelly Turkeys has led the way in re-establishing the bronze variety as “turkey aristocracy”. Such is the family’s expertise that son Paul Kelly has achieved Guinness World Record fame for not only being the world’s fastest turkey plucker, but the fastest carver too.
“Winning awards – even personal ones – is something we, as a family and a business are exceedingly proud of. Our turkeys are industry champions and have been named the British Turkey Federation’s Best Christmas Turkey for eight consecutive years”, Paul notes.
Gearing up for Christmas
Whilst the team are hard at work throughout the year, the run up to Christmas is by far the most important time of year. FedEx and Kelly Turkeys have worked together for the last 13 years, a relationship that ensures customers across the UK receive their orders in time for the big day. Reoccurring feedback from regular customers has even noted this excellent service: ‘a wonderful turkey and prompt delivery’ and ‘a superb bird with excellent service, right through to delivery! An absolutely delightful Christmas experience’.
Using the Next Day delivery service provides Paul with peace of mind that every turkey will be delivered within 24 hours and FedEx uses fully insulated chill boxes to ensure fresh transportation. While the distribution of perishable products must always be high priority, the idea that families could be left without a turkey at Christmas is an additional consideration that drives FedEx to continue to deliver against all odds, no matter the extreme weather conditions faced en route.
Martin Davidian, Managing Director Sales UK & Ireland, FedEx Express commented, “We even reached one elderly customer based in one of the northern most parts of Scotland, with the courier walking the last half mile in heavy snow just to get there. This year, we will again, no matter what conditions we face, do whatever it takes to deliver.”
“It is this very example that demonstrates the unwavering dedication FedEx displays every year; an unrivalled level of commitment that has firmly secured their place as our number one choice when it comes to delivery,” added Paul Kelly.
Meanwhile across the pond
While hugely proud of the company’s British heritage, for Paul Kelly the US Thanksgiving market is the next logical step. Having purchased a small farm in Virginia following a trial marketing exercise in the state, his KellyBronze turkeys will become the centrepiece of 1,200 Thanksgiving tables across the country this year. Ongoing growth in the US is expected to mirror that of the UK – with plans to introduce the breed nationally and double sales year-on-year for the foreseeable future.
Paul emphasises, “The US market is enormous and we’re eager to pursue the opportunities that lie across the pond. We’re still in the early stages, but we’re aiming for peak sales of 20,000 turkeys within five years. With the expertise FedEx already provides for us in the UK, we are certain they will deliver the same quality service for domestic distribution throughout the States.”