New laid plans – how a family egg farm is adapting to change

James Lyall, the third-generation owner of an Oxfordshire-based family farm, Mayfield Eggs, explains how upweighting the farm’s sustainable credentials has provided a catalyst for growth, supported by Lloyds Bank’s Clean Growth Financing Initiative.

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Read time: 5 mins      Added: 18/10/2022

The Lyall family has farmed in Oxfordshire for over 60 years. For many years, says James Lyall, “it was a simple business model” operating across two locations – the farm where the hens laid eggs and a grading and packing building 10 miles away. Fast forward to today and the farm’s eggs are served across Oxfordshire and customers include many of the Oxford University Colleges plus the two-Michelin-starred Le Manoir Aux Quat Saisons Hotel.

As James grew the business and had more hens on the farm, the distance between the two locations and the traditional methods used to grade and pack eggs created inefficiencies. It led to a discussion between James and Lloyds Bank around how to successfully meet the changes and opportunities ahead. 

Mayfield Eggs

James’ plan for an on-site packaging facility and grading machine to speed up operations would both increase efficiency and reduce costs. Further, it would go on to cut the business’ emissions by removing the 10-mile daily journey previously required. 

Steve Withers, Agricultural Relationship Manager at Lloyds Bank said, “Often, plans that prove better for the environment also reduce operating costs. From a sustainability and a business point of view, that’s important for us. It’s a key way in which we support our clients.”

The promised cut in emissions meant that Lloyds Bank could provide the £480,000 investment required through the Clean Growth Financing Initiative. This offers discounted lending to support businesses to become more sustainable and reduce their environmental impact. 

The funding for the project proved instrumental in not only reducing the emissions produced by the business, but in enabling it to pivot quickly in response to the pandemic – a move that’s inspired new growth opportunities for the family business.

“The new building reduced our operating costs by cutting the time needed to grade eggs from nine to five, Monday to Friday every week, to no more than five hours in a week,” explains James. “The investment also gave us the opportunity to bring new jobs to the local community.”

Working with local producers, James has expanded to offer other fresh produce alongside his core egg deliveries, including bread, strawberries and cherries. “The new building meant we had space to create a cool room to support that,” he says. “Now, in the summer months, the fresh produce makes up to 40% of our revenue.

“The Bank’s support gives us a platform to grow and to reduce costs, which with feed prices soaring and demand rising, is crucial. We’re continually asking what do our customers want and how do we maintain profitability to remain financially viable and the answer is by being agile and adapting to change.

“Given that change is inevitable, working with Lloyds Bank remains critical to us achieving sustainability and growth.”

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