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5 minutes with the Team. Meet Sean Willis…

sean willis, managing director of douglas willis

In the next of our series of chats with the Douglas Willis team, we meet Sean Willis.


Grandson of founder Douglas Willis, Sean is the third generation of the Willis family to run the business alongside his two brothers, Peter and Greg. Sean has the busy role of Managing Director.

Having started his career as a Chartered Surveyor in London’s West End, he swapped the hectic city lifestyle for the rolling Welsh countryside with his wife and 2 children, and regularly makes the most of the beautiful landscape as a keen mountain biker and trail runner.


Tell us a bit more about your day-to-day role as MD?


Well, I manage every aspect, from production through to sales, and delivery. I bring together the farming, retail and catering butchery elements of the business and make sure everyone’s opinions are heard.

I like to think of it as greasing the wheels of a large machine. I keep all the cogs turning. And I like to stay hands-on so, one day I could be delivering orders, the next I could be presenting to potential new clients, the next I could be inputting orders.


What have you found most challenging in the last year?


Our biggest challenge has been the downturn in business. Although classed as an essential retailer, our trade business has been on pause as hotels and restaurants have closed their doors. We’ve constantly had to balance staffing levels to keep everything running as demand has changed. Whilst also being very mindful of the team’s needs and of keeping our costs low.


And what’s been the most rewarding?


By far it’s been the way we’ve been able to support our customers through such a difficult time. I’m incredibly proud of the way the team have adapted to selling more online and the commitment to getting deliveries to isolated or elderly customers.


What do you think has made Douglas Willis such a success story over the last 80 years?


My grandfather Douglas Willis said to me “It takes a lifetime to build a reputation, but a moment to lose it. Never compromise on quality or service and you will always have customers.”

Following this philosophy is what has continued to drive us forward.

We don’t do everything perfectly, we’re human of course. But we certainly aim to.


Can you tell us something about Douglas Willis that we might not know?


That we continue to use traditional butchery with all our meat. It’s quite common for butchers now to buy boxed boneless beef, lamb or pork and then cut this into joints.

But we always choose our meat based on the live animal and then use our bespoke butchery methods to get the best from each piece. Either ageing the meat on the bone or cutting to individual customer requests, guaranteeing the best quality for our customers.


Lastly, what’s your favourite cut of meat and the dream meal you’d cook with it?


My favourite cut of meat is a medium rare ribeye steak. I would have this with sauteed potatoes, mushrooms, and a side salad and a little English mustard.