Norfolk is famous for a lot of things, and back in 2015 when the BBC commissioned a behind the scenes reality TV series about life on Wiveton Hall Farm; Normal for Norfolk, the captivating Desmond MacCarthy was added to the list! Chris from accountancy firm, Larking Gowen, chats to Desmond about life on and off camera; Desmond’s passion for the environment; and how you pivot a business model from fruit picking and farming, into a successful tourist destination. Desmond highlights the importance of sustainability within the tourism sector, how agricultural firms need to embrace this, and how all those in the sector need to start engaging with the concepts of sourcing local, reducing their carbon footprints and how returning to traditional farming techniques may be the key.
They delve into life in lockdown, and the impact that this had on the farm café and, along with Brexit, the ongoing struggle of recruitment within the fruit farming facet of the business, which is intrinsic to the USP of the café. They also discuss the practical changes that COVID brought to the day-to-day running of the business, and what will stay as a result of the positive impact they had on profit and minimising outgoings.
They discuss the potential for growth in the sector throughout Norfolk, and the unique positioning it has in the region, and how investment has been key for them, particularly with their holiday cottage lets. Desmond also takes us back in time, on a whimsical journey into his family heritage, and the evolution of the family business.
Chris gets Desmond to open up about his time being filmed by the BBC, what impact his celebrity status had on the farm and its visitor numbers, and the pro’s and con’s this brings when you have a message you want to get out into the world, but all they are interested in are your ‘animated’ eyebrows!
This is an unmissable chat with one of Norfolk’s most eccentric, interesting, and well-known figures, working successfully, and consistently pivoting within the sector. Desmond is proof that a positive attitude and a love of people is key to success in customer facing business.
You can learn more about Wiveton Hall Farm here
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