More than six months after a devastating fire at an East Lancashire cheesemaker, the company is celebrating its partnership with a fellow company.

In November 2023, in the busy run-up to Christmas, Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses' office and packing site in Longridge was destroyed in a blaze.

James Hall & Co. Ltd, located just down the road in Bowland View, Preston, came to Butlers’ aid by offering a model that would both ensure business continuity and help them meet essential festive orders.

Almost overnight, a full stock holding system was established at Bowland View which enabled the Butlers team a full record of every pallet held in the building, and an assembly space and storage area was created within the warehouse for its Christmas cheese hampers.

Matthew Hall, fourth-generation owner of Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses, said: “Our devastating fire occurred at the busiest time of year in the run-up to Christmas.

“Geographically we are not far away from James Hall & Co. Ltd which was really helpful, and as a family business, our values align and we share a similar ethos.

"I think because of that there was an understanding of the integration needed immediately, and processes were put in place overnight.

“We are incredibly grateful for the support we received at such a critical and difficult time.

"The ongoing help today with warehousing and distribution is also valued, and with both families sharing the Hall name too, you could say it was meant to be!”

Assistance was also provided on each of Butlers’ four-weekly stock takes, and a facility was set up to ensure it could product test up to 50 pallets on the same time cycle.

Transport was provided between the storage area at Bowland View and Butlers’ production facility, and initially more than 700 pallets of stock were being stored in late 2023.

Since February, the business arrangement has formalised, and hundreds of pallets at present continue to be stored at James Hall & Co. Ltd as Butlers has recovered, with pallets either coming or going between sites five days a week.

James Hall & Co. Ltd is now providing a transport service which allows Butlers to move some of its cheese to its new storage facility while continuing to assist with the loading and organisation of third-party hauliers to collect from Bowland View.

Although not related, the families behind both businesses share the Hall name, and following National Cheese Day on June 4, Matthew Hall and Andrew Hall have celebrated the success of the ongoing partnership.

Andrew Hall, joint-managing director of James Hall & Co. Ltd, said: “I remember first hearing of the fire and my shock at seeing the damage.

"Offering business support to Matthew and the family at Butlers was simply the right thing to do in the circumstances.

“The team in the warehouse here at Bowland View really went the extra mile to support the Butlers operation at a time when we too as a business were in the middle of the festive rush, however we understood what needed to be done.

“I am delighted to see how the relationship has evolved in the months since, and reflecting on the partnership work, I think it has been a wonderful business lesson in what can be achieved in a very short space of time through trust, experience, and excellent communication.”

James Hall & Co. Ltd is a fifth-generation family business which serves a network of independent SPAR retailers and company-owned SPAR stores across Northern England six days a week.