Discover how organic farm, Rhug Estate has used superfast broadband to streamline internal communications, improve customer service and grow the million pound business.
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Lord Newborough: Rhug is essentially an organic business that has grown since its advent in 1998 to being a very diverse business which is involved in retailing, wholesaling, producing green energy and we have a shop on site with a bistro and a grab-and-go restaurant.
Since 1998, the business has expanded dramatically. We were employing 9 people then, we employ today 115 people. The business ran up against a challenge of slow broadband speeds and without the superfast speeds that we’re experiencing now, we couldn’t have continued to grow the business.
Gareth Jones: The estate is 12,500 acres in total. Half of that is tenanted so we’re farming just over 6,500 acres in hand, as it were. The main site being here in Corwen. Because of the size of the estate, obviously, broadband is very important to us and the speed of the internet connection. Now the Welsh Government have gone over all on to electronic completing of the single farm payment application and so on, and any other grants that we do, that’s very important to us.
In the past it was very difficult for us because of the slow connection and it kept dropping out – and we’re fortunate to have the high speed broadband here that enables us to complete these forms far more efficiently.
Sharon Stembridge: Yeah, having the superfast broadband has enabled us to use a local supplier to come and put a new voice over IP phone system in. It’s meant that connectivity between the shop and the wholesale department is better and also we will benefit from huge savings. After year one, it will be around £4,000 a year.
Graham Webster: One of the main benefits that we have of the superfast broadband here at Rhug is our point of sales system and our chip and pin, so we use that in all parts of the business – the shop and the restaurant and the take away. We rely on that for several hundred sales a day so it has to be reliable, it has to be quick, it has to be efficient and that’s what we’ve found with the superfast broadband.
We also use the internal wifi for our iPad ordering system. So, in the bistro all of the orders are placed onto the iPad, they’ll go direct through to the kitchen so our customers can be served more quickly.
We also use the broadband for streaming music. We have that playing in the restaurant and the shop but also outside as well so it’s quite important. It gives us the mood for the entire business. We can change that mood to suit evenings, day time, different days of the week and we stream music all day long.
Social media is incredibly important for us. It’s our main marketing tool that we use through Facebook and Twitter. All of the various media forms that we can, we use them. It’s how we contact our customers, new customers and existing customers. We’re posting several times a day – it has to be quick, it has to be efficient. We want to be able to post videos and pictures so we need it to be the superfast broadband so that we can keep up with today’s marketing.
Lord Newborough: I am very proud of the way Rhug has developed over the years. We’re now turning over just over £8.5 million. We’re now exporting to various parts of the world and that is contributing another £500,000 to our turnover and is a growing part of the business.
I see the business for the future not only being financially secure but also a growing business for time to come.